Presentations, deadlines, meetings, networking events, family time and social obligations. Squeeze in a little ‘me’ time too. Does this describe a typical week? After such busy weeks, the motivation to learn something new or attend a class to accelerate your career is nearly zilch. But, can learning afford to take a backseat, especially in such a fast-paced, competitive world? What if we showed you a way to develop a learning mindset and make continuous learning a seamless part of your day-to-day routine, like the most inspiring and accomplished individuals in the world?
Read on if you are ready to make continuous learning a part of your life.
Tip #1: Consciously develop a work-life-learn balance
Technological change across industries demands a stronger and more continuous connection between education and employment. The workplace is being reconfigured every day with the advancement of artificial intelligence, automation, and technology. Continuous learning has in fact become an economic imperative. It is the only tool that successful leaders have used over the years to make meaning of the uneven playing field that is constantly evolving.
Research has shown that most skills have a half-life of about five years. Technical skills especially are at just two and a half years. The short shelf-life of technical skills reiterates that continuous upskilling and re-skilling efforts are mandatory to stay relevant.
As a professional, we learn both consciously and subconsciously. We subconsciously pick up information and learn every day by reading articles, working with new team members, implementing unique programs and tools, and reviewing presentations. However, learning in a more formal and conscious way is equally, if not more important to stay ahead of the rest. Include a learning hour in your day, or a learning session every week, and stick to it. Plan your meetings, deliverables, and engagements around this.
When I took up the 32-week Professional Certificate in Coding program by MIT xPRO, I wondered how I would manage a full-time job, my family, and the course. However, I was determined to complete the course. I had to multitask and plan well so that I could succeed all simultaneously. As it was an online course, it gave me the flexibility to manage all aspects of my life well.
Tip #2: Identify your objective and work backward
Why? What is your ‘why’ behind learning? Figuring this out is vital. Most often we find it very difficult to change our way of thinking and functioning unless we have a strong, external motivation.
Focusing on the ROI can help you ensure you meet your daily or weekly learning goals and develop a good, long-term learning mindset. The ‘why’ could range from:
- Switch to a new company or role
- Need new skills for a promotion
- Fear of becoming obsolete in the future
- Wish to upskill to avoid stagnation in my current role
Tip #3: Find a learning and feedback buddy
There is a light at the end of the tunnel but the journey can get lonely, boring, and pointless if you are not self-motivated. The two most important aspects of effective learning are feedback and accountability. This not only ensures that the learning is continuously happening but is also implemented efficiently.
A learning and feedback buddy could be someone at your workplace or an acquaintance with whom you share learning goals. You might be learning different skills, but you can hold each other accountable, discuss approaches, and monitor regularly.
Tip #4: Take a step back and reflect on your learning journey
Learning as an adult is very focused and often occurs with an end objective. It is important to set metrics and learning outcomes at every stage. Be it an online course or a workshop, establish an action plan, review your learnings, and start implementing at the earliest. Instead of signing up for multiple courses and leaving them midway, it is highly recommended to take a step back, review your “why” and then sign up only for programs that help you achieve your end goals. This is a very important stage and will help you develop a healthy learning mindset.
Schedule learning into your weekly routine and repeat it until it becomes a habit. Set SMART goals, reflect periodically, and make changes whenever necessary. Speaking to a manager or career advisor can help you structure your learning plans better too.
Think of your career as a tool kit. Find the gaps and fill them with the right tools. You have to continually stretch yourself to do something you are not comfortable with or learn something new. To become a great leader is to learn continuously.
Tip #5: Jump out of your comfort zone and be ready to apply your learning
We asked our Chief Product Officer, Shaun Dubash, how a learner must pick the right course or workshop. He said, “When it comes to learning you have to remember to truthfully answer these questions:
- Is the source credible?
- Are you building a good network and community?
- Will you be able to apply what you have learned?”
The true measure of success when it comes to learning is application. Developing a learning mindset and making it a part of your schedule will happen only when you learn, apply, learn more, and grow. Application of learning can happen at your workplace. If there are no opportunities available, you could also take up small projects in your domain of choice and apply your learning. It is perfectly ok to fail, as it is the first stepping stone and will teach you the practical application of concepts that you have learned theoretically.
Tip #6: Tools to help you get started on your learning journey:
- Time management: Use your time wisely, build a daily and weekly schedule, and make room for learning, working, and spending quality time with your family and yourself.
- Find interesting side gigs and projects: You might not be able to apply everything you learn at your current workplace. Take up small projects and work with interesting people while applying your skills and solving problems.
- Build a network: Talk to like-minded people, discuss on forums, challenge ideas (and yourself), and always be open to learning something new.
- Pick the right course: Choose from a wide range of courses and pick ones that will help you accelerate your career. Compare universities, programs, fees, and learning outcomes before you make a decision.
Are you ready to learn? Emeritus can help!
The importance of continuous learning and developing a learning mindset is growing. Leaders across industries are recognising the need for it and making conscious efforts to reskill and upskill in order to stay relevant.
If you are looking for the right course to get started on your lifelong learning journey, then do explore our program page. Find the world’s best courses being offered by some of the top universities across the globe.
Still wondering if you need to take up a course? Ask yourself these seven questions before signing up!
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and suggestions.
By Manasa Ramakrishnan