Some say your brain is your most powerful asset, so why not learn as much as you can? There are many benefits of being a jack of all trades, such as being able to adapt to unanticipated changes. For example, a lifelong learner will take a job loss, change in work responsibilities, and/or technological advances much easier than their underskilled counterparts. However, the benefits of lifelong learning extend far beyond being adaptable.
Today, seventy-three percent of American adults consider themselves to be lifelong learners, and eighty percent have pursued learning about an interest to make their lives fuller. Furthermore, eighty-seven percent of learners feel their new skills make them more well-rounded and capable. Overall, continuous learning can lead to personal improvements, gained confidence, and a new perspective in life. With so much to learn in such little time, what’s the most effective way to learn new skills?
Set a Goal & Break it Down: Pareto’s Principle
Singapore’s National Institute of Education concludes that people who solely attempt to solve math problems don’t come up with the accurate answer; however, it is in this process that leads to the generation of ideas concerning the nature of practicable solutions. In summation, this leads to improved potential to solve kindred-natured problems in the future.
To achieve this, it’s best to set goals. Consider modeling your goals after Pareto’s Principle, saying that 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your desired results. Understanding your ultimate goal is the first and most important step toward learning anything. Knowing what you want will keep you on the road to progression, especially as challenges arise. To define your goal, ensure it’s concrete. Make a list and check off your completed tasks to build momentum.
After you’re aware of what you want, you’ll need to break it down to further understand the outcome of your goal. Start by doing some research into the skill you want to master without forgetting your original goal and overall purpose. Moreover, list down all the components involved in accomplishing the task, no matter how small these are. Thinking analytically from the get-go can help you in the long run.
Practice Makes Perfect – Use the DISS Method
The more comfortably we know something, the easier it is for our brains to do the work. Even further, mastering a skill leads to increased activity in the parts of our brain not involved in the performance. Each time we learn something new, our brain chemistry changes.
Performing various activities can increase a synapse’s strength when we learn new skills, so repeated stimulation of two neurons simultaneously can create new links between them. After a new connection is developed, stimulating one will activate the other.
This can dramatically change your mind and attitude, allowing you to look beyond what you already know. It can also be argued that the more you learn, the better understanding you’ll have of the world. With that being said, go outside of your comfort zone and be ready for new opportunities.
Using the DISS Method can guide you into these new opportunities. Before approaching something, deconstruct the problem. Ask yourself: how can I break down what I need to know? Following this, choose a selection process. Ask yourself: which steps should I focus on first in order to achieve my most ideal outcome? Then, align your tasks in the smooth sequence. Ask yourself: in what order will it be easiest to learn these steps? Finally, weigh out the stakes in your situation. Ask yourself: what are the consequences if I am not able to complete my task?
From here on out, you should have a perfect understanding of what you want and how to get it. The only thing left to do is to practice. Some tips along the way are to focus solely on your task, and avoid distractions as much as possible. Furthermore, split practice time into concentrated periods, multiple times a day or week. Finally, visualize yourself accomplishing your goals.
The Value of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning has led 64% of people to make new friends and connections, 58% to feel more involved in their community, and 43% to become more open to taking volunteer opportunities. Outside of this, lifelong learners have also noted personal improvements such as improved memory, fine-tuned emotional intelligence, and increased language skills. Many have even felt a boost in confidence as learning new things gives us a feeling of accomplishment, making you feel ready to take on challenges and new ventures.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.