It’s Time to Continue Your Learning

by on December 2, 2010

It’s Time to Continue Your Learningmidlife career changes

It has been almost 3 years now since I moved on from my first career in corporate America.   When I reflect back on that period of time, one item that becomes very clear to me is that my thirst for learning is greater than it has been in many years.   Much of that has admittedly been attributable to starting a second career in a discipline that encourages continued learning and keeping up with different trends and thought processes.  I’ve become a far greater reader than I was previously.  I have gained new insights from both books and in today’s world the wealth of information that is available via the internet in such forms as electronic magazines, websites and discussion forums.

I find learning at this time of my life far more rewarding than I did 35 years ago when I was pursuing a college degree.  At that time my focus was both on learning but more so achieving the best grades I possibly could so in turn I could stand out to potential employers as a high ranking graduate.   That which I focus on learning now is of my own choosing and at my own pace.   Whether it is learning via reading a book, attending a seminar, networking with peers or just opening my senses to that which is around me, it is happening because I am making it happen.

One of the most frustrating things for me to hear from those who are at the midlife point of their life is that they are too old to learn something new.  While I absolutely don’t accept that sentiment, it also concerns me because it becomes more evident to me all the time that the only constant that we can be sure of in today’s world is that change in the ways things are done is continually taking place.  The situation in our economy is eliminating many past jobs but at the same time opening up new jobs with different knowledge and skill sets required.  How people communicate and receive information continues to evolve through different technologies and media sources.  And, while that which is changing may not be viewed by some as being better than the way things were done in the past, the reality is those new methods are a part of today’s society and a way of doing things.   Acknowledging their existence, gaining some perspective on how they work or minimally seeking assistance from someone who does, is a step to show one is expanding their horizons.

Here are just some of the sources I have used to increase my knowledge in the last 3 years:

Achieving my Coaching Certification – Over the course of 8 months, I pursued a 400 hour program which included in-person classroom time, teleclasses, book reports, peer coaching, mentor coaching, a written exam and an oral exam.  It was the first structured educational program I had pursued since completing my Masters degree 22 years earlier.  The chance to learn with others from all different backgrounds and life experiences was one of the most exhilarating experiences that I have ever had.  Many of those contacts made have continued as friends today.  Are there courses or a degree that you always wanted to pursue, but never did get to in the past?  Now is an excellent time in your life to dedicate yourself to that pursuit.

Online Adult School Classes – Local Adult schools often offer a wide range of sessions to increase your knowledge.  For the most part they are usually very reasonably priced and offer the ability to learn at your own pace.  Since I had taken my last adult school sessions about 10 to 15 years ago, one of the great features I found was the introduction of the Online Adult School class.  These were available to take from the comfort of my home at my computer.  Lessons were released twice a week, and taken when convenient for me.  The ability to follow with questions and have dialogue with the instructor was also available.  In my case I was able to pursue one course on learning to become a tour guide, (I’ve always loved to travel), to learning to speak Spanish (my wife is of Cuban heritage and her entire family, including younger children, know how to speak the language).  It was fun and relaxing to learn at my own pace, but most of all I was increasing my knowledge in areas of interest to me.

Reading Books – While this has long been a source for people to increase their knowledge, between today’s mega bookstore chains, to online sites making available books from authors of all sorts, information is immediately at your fingertips.  If you have not been to your local book store in awhile, make a stop if you have resisted up to now.  Recently on vacation in Portland, Oregon I stopped in “Powell’s”, the largest book store that I have ever been in.  Just in the “Self-Help” section the number of books and topic areas available was mind boggling.  (This held true for whatever topic area you could think of).  The point is, there is so much out there on which you can broaden your horizons.  Don’t let the opportunity go to waste.

Seminars – These can take many forms.  They can be in person at your local library, or via the telephone.  They can be as short as one one-hour session or can be for several sessions.  Often shorter duration ones are free while longer ones going over multiple sessions while having a fee, usually are low priced.  Those that are taking part in the seminar often share the same interests as you, so you are learning with those also interested in the same topic.  Look for in-person seminars in your local newspaper.  Telephone seminars can be taken from anywhere in the world and only require you have access to a telephone to participate.

The reality is that learning opportunities of all types are around you constantly.  If you have reached this point of your life and you are looking for ways to productively use your time, increasing your knowledge is a wonderful step to take.   On the other hand, if you have reached this point and say you have too many things to do to take time for yourself, think again.   Even just taking advantage of one or two learning opportunities can provide you a good balance between the activities of your hectic everyday life and provide you some private time for yourself.  The point is, you never reach a point to stop learning.  Choices on how to do so are expanding everyday and it’s up to you to tune into those ways that most appeal to you.          

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