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The Keys to Lifelong Learning

Guest blog by Nicolle Germain, MBA

As you sit here today on a hopefully sunny, warm Thursday reading the latest X5 blog, I will challenge you to reflect on your current life and your habits – both professional and personal. Habits are things we all have – whether they are good or bad.

Perhaps drinking out of the milk carton, hitting the snooze button a few times in the morning, or reading the business section of the newspaper are things you do on a daily basis that are habitual in nature.

Lifelong Learning ClassroomSome habits we have are things we do merely to exist. You have your daily routine of getting ready in the morning, driving to work, and wrapping your day up and getting home to your family. While other habits are time stealers – procrastination, the “I’ll get to it laters”, the constant shuffling of priorities and not committing to your commitments. The problem with life and your habits is that they sometimes get in the way of your hopes, dreams and plans. Life is distracting, time consuming, and time goes by all too quickly.

So, where am I going with this discussion on habits and dealing with distractions? The goal here is to shed light on the fact that there is no time like the present for you to invest time in yourself – whether it’s professional development, personal growth, new hobbies or skills. Learning isn’t something that we did only in school to then drop as soon as we start our career. I want to really dwell on the ‘lifelong learning’ aspect. In a way we are always learning, but to really make the most out of your life and your career – ensure you are spending and investing time into YOU. Because investing positive time into you means you will be in turn happier and this will affect the life you lead and the relationships you have.

There will always be a million excuses for not making time for learning. But, my challenge to you is – if you’re not looking to spend time on investing on your own well-being, where will that leave you in a few months, years or decades down the road? Things you had planned months ago will never become a priority unless you make ‘learning’ a habit and build it into your routines.

A few keys to developing positive habits around Lifelong Learning: 

1) Start today! It’s never too late to read a new book, visit the library, start a new hobby, or go back to school. You have to be ready and willing to create time in your life for learning, and work at developing positive habits around learning.

2) Make a list and set timelines around your learning goals. We’ve discussed goal setting before, but S.M.A.R.T. goals are the best way for you to see and make progress. (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).

3) Remember – learning can be fun! Explore and invest time into things that you are passionate about or have had an interest in for a long time. Perhaps, you’ve wanted to learn how to fly fish, make a quilt, or learn about the stock market and making investments.

4) Team up. Get a friend or family member to learn with, or sign up for a class and meet new people. Learning is even more enjoyable when it can be shared with other people.

5) Don’t bite off more than you can chew. As mentioned before, life is time consuming and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with even more commitments. Start slowly – whether it’s trying to finish a book every month or two, taking a class part-time, or spending 15 minutes everyday reading a new business article on the Forbes’ website. Do things that are adding value to your life, not stressing you out more.

6) Celebrate your success. Whether you obtained a new professional designation, implemented a new tracking system at work, or got a black belt in karate – reflect on the hard-work you did and recognize your accomplishments.

7) Never stop! Don’t stop learning – no matter the size or scope. Continue to challenge yourself to learn new things and grow as a person moving forward. Make learning a habit! 🙂

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