As part of your unretirement, you might want to add some new skills. Learning is important. We must continuously learn to remain healthy and relevant.
I believe the term lifelong learner may have become a little stale. Some people have renamed it “self-learning”. Regardless of your age and what you call it, the concept is important. Becoming a lifelong learner takes planning and discipline. I tend to think of it as a practice, similar to mindfulness or an exercise program like Pilates. It’s something I’m constantly working on and getting a little better every day. If you’re looking for ways to create a personal learning practice, here are 8 things to consider:
- Admit how you like to learn. There are three primary ways people learn something – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. It’s important to know your preferred learning style. And that your style might be different at times. For example, when it comes to cooking, I’m a hands-on learner. But if it’s a theory, I prefer auditory or visual.
- Realize there’s a difference between what you want to learn and what you need to learn. Just because you’re thinking about retirement doesn’t mean there aren’t things you need to learn. You might want to learn a software program so you can do your own taxes. Or a second language so you can spend part of the year in another country. There may be lots of things we want to know, but what are the new knowledge and skills that will help us accomplish our goals.
- Create a learning bucket list. Speaking of wants and needs, find a process that you’re comfortable with for prioritizing learning. Even when you have all the time in the world, you don’t want to take on too many things at once. It will ultimately impact the thing you’re learning at the moment. Create your own list of skills that you want to learn.
- Look for learning buddies. IMHO, over half of learning is enjoying the experience. There’s no rule that says self-learning must be done alone. Lifelong learners might find an occasional group meeting to share stories is helpful and valuable to the process. Find a club or a group that will support your learning goals.
- Discover new and fun ways to learn things. Today’s technology allows us to learn in ways we could have never imagined. I just discovered that, if I wanted to take a cooking class with famous “shouty” Chef Gordon Ramsay, I can. Or I can learn how to code using Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app. Learning doesn’t have to be boring.
- Connect with good sources for learning opportunities. The second thing that technology brings to the learning space is new sources. The good news is there are lots of smart, talented people we can learn from. The hard part is sifting through all of the noise to find them. Maybe our learning buddies (#4) can help.
- Schedule time for learning. Block off time on your calendar for learning. Even when you don’t have a formal work schedule. I do not have to tell anyone what will happen if you postpone learning to when you have nothing else to do. Make learning a priority and it will happen. So, schedule an appointment with yourself to learn. You deserve it.
- Regularly reflect on your takeaways. Learning should have a purpose. When you decided that you wanted to learn something, there was a reason. Reflect on your learning experience. Ask yourself, “Am I getting out of the learning experience what I hoped?” And if necessary, make adjustments.
Your age has nothing to do with being a lifelong learner. We will never know it all. The best way to manage learning is by developing a personal process of learning because you’re going to be doing it for a long time.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL