- Sajid Ajmal
- February 19, 2018
How to Develop the Mindset for Lifelong Learning
Education continues beyond the confines of a classroom. Successful IT professionals these days understand the importance of lifelong learning and the fact that they’ll need to make the most of emerging resources like ExpertConnect to hone their skills successfully. Technologies and business models are changing rapidly. This little fact can be disastrous for careers of people who believe that once they’ve earned their degrees, it’s time to hang up the learning hat. It is important for IT pros to participate in career building activities with others in their industry, and adopt habits that empower lifelong learning, if they are to build a truly successful professional life.
One of the biggest challenges of continuous professional learning is finding the time for it. Also, some people assume that once they have chosen a career path, they can’t ‘grow’ into other role. ‘Writing isn’t my thing”. “I am too old to learn to code”. “I am just not good at calculus”. These are just some of the ways we make ourselves feel like learning is not a viable goal anymore.
The truth is that we can and must take control of our learning. Industries across the world are becoming aware of the advantage of the ‘growth mindset’, and if you are not adding new stuff to your bag of tricks, you are lagging behind.
Lifelong Learning – The Power of Progress
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck researched the Growth Mindset, clearly showing that once in the right mindset, we can improve any aspect of our personalities and skills with work and thorough practice. Yes, it can be difficult to find the time and muster up energy to seek learning opportunities, but every little step counts.
The good news here is that learning doesn’t happen only in classrooms. IT professionals are creating organizations, clubs and groups where they can come together and create a personalized yet impactful learning experience for all members. These peer-to-peer learning avenues are a perfect opportunity for anyone who believes that their career is stagnated. Getting together will other like-minded individuals promotes growth mindset, and motivates everyone to change their attitudes towards learning.
Making Lifelong Learning Possible Anytime, Anywhere.
Neuroscience and psychology have proven that our brains are always malleable and that it is possible to continue learning well into our 80s. Understand that you can learn and grow at any stage of your career.
Here are a few ways you can continue to learn forever:
Change Your Awareness of Learning
Understand that we pick up useful knowledge from friends, colleagues, family, in social settings and by the good old trial-and-error method. People with a growth and learning mindset have this figured out. They don’t need to sign up for classes to actually learn something. Instead they find new opportunities everywhere around them. For truly successful people, learning isn’t restricted to books. Their practical skills, and workplace experience counts for a lot as well.
Have Goals… and Smash Them!
Is there some skill you’ve always wanted to learn? You are absolutely sure that it will contribute to your professional and personal development, but you just know if you’ll be able to learn it. Give yourself a time frame to do it but don’t rush it. You are managing a job as well as your private life, so it’s perfectly fine if you only ace level 1 of Japanese in months.
Find Your Inspiration
Active participation is an important precursor to effective learning. Don’t just passively consume information because it will be of little use to you. Instead, talk to experts, read web articles, ask relevant questions and find a way to put your new-found knowledge to professional use. If you are learning a skill that will require special instruction, like coding, find places or people who can help you excel at it.
Find A Group of Like-minded Individuals
It always helps to have others, with goals similar to yours, learning along with you. They can offer nights and resources that you may not have had access to previously. More importantly, group settings can offer constructive feedback, and it’s just fun to have others on the journey with you.
Start with people you know and work with. Also check out online resources like Expert Connect where IT professionals from all skill levels come together to solve their professional dilemmas with peer-to-peer social learning. Online communities like this one, can provide an amazing social learning environment and help you meet your learning goals.
Practice What You Learn
Nothing’s more motivating then reaping real-life benefit of all your knowledge. So, try to find a way to put your knowledge to work for you. If you are learning a new programming language, code away. If you are learning to paint, take to the canvas often. It is this unconscious mastery of the mundane, that will lead to excellence in your craft.
In fact, it’d be a good idea to start a solo pet project that will help you get better at your new skill and help you create a product that you can add to your professional portfolio.
As You Learn New Things, Teach It to Others
In fact, why not start a blog of your own, to augment your learning and teach others as well?
Author Stephen R. Covey opines that “when we teach, we become even more motivated to learn because we want to ensure proper instruction”. Teaching makes us do an audit of the subject matter at hand, and then we try to figure out how to make it clear and understandable for the uninitiated. This in-turn helps enhance our own understanding of the subject. Even more interestingly, when you talk aloud about an idea, it helps further solidify our own understanding of it, this is called the ‘production effect’.
Now let’s say it one more time – we cannot put an age limit to learning!
Thankfully, these days there are more ways than one to sharpen your skills, and employ the growth mindset to enhance your life.
Professionals are now realizing that a degree is not sufficient learning. You got it before you started your career, and pace at which this world is changing has essentially rendered the degree obsolete. You need to continue learning and professional development if you are to succeed at career building. This holds true for IT experts, programmers, coders and web developers as well.
Use the tips mentioned above to equip yourself with a love for learning. Working on your skills will not only lead to personal satisfaction, but also help you stay ahead of the competition. If you are a part of an ever-involving industry, a commitment to lifelong learning is the only way to ensure that you have the tools to develop a successful career.
If you are in IT, feel free to join ExpertConnect. You can connect with a number of IT experts and trendsetters here, learn from them, and establish yourself as an expert in your domain.