Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty." -Henry Ford
We all know the old adage, "You learn something new every day." Well, that's not enough. Let me rephrase that - it's not enough to get ahead. If you learn something new every day, it means you're keeping up with everyone else. Especially because for many people, learning happens passively. Someone mentions a random tidbit of trivia in conversation. You hear an unfamiliar word and Google it. That's playing defense - you'll never get ahead if you don't take a more aggressive approach and actually set a longer-term game-plan for your personal learning.
Looking for job security? Learn new skills. Become an expert in an area related to your field. Create a plan for developing universal skills that will serve you well in any company: leadership, creative thinking, project management. The most successful people (in life and work) are those who proactively pursue learning every chance they get, through books, blogs, podcasts, journal articles, magazines, etc. Companies must constantly evolve and innovate to stay ahead and continue making a profit. The world and its technologies get increasingly more complex every day. If you are not learning, you are obsolete.
Six Questions to Help You Set a Personal Learning Strategy
- Plan ahead and think strategically about your team and career: what job-related skills will you need six months from now?
- What one area, if you made measurable improvement over next three months, would have the biggest impact on your success in your role?
- They say "dress for the job you want, not the job you have." What's the job you really want? What skills or knowledge do you need to get there?
- Look at other people in positions at or above your level who are successful - what skills, knowledge and behaviors do they have that you don't? What will it take to narrow that gap?
- Learning doesn't have to be job-related: what really excites you? Art? History? Creative Writing? Politics? Dedicate time every week to stretching your brain, just like you would any other muscle.
- What did you learn this week? Schedule time to reflect about what you've learned on a regular basis. (I find this much more effective if you write it down and commit to a certain amount of time for reflection, like 15 or 30 minutes)
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." -Mahatma Ghandi