What do the likes of Michelangelo, Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt have in common? They have all advocated the importance of fostering a love of learning and continuous personal growth. These values are synonymous with the idea of lifelong learning, which is the ongoing process of pursuing knowledge, be it for personal or professional reasons.
Without really thinking about it, most people believe that their education is over when they graduate from high school or university. However, formal schooling is only fundamental. There are countless opportunities beyond it to further your knowledge in a specific field.
While that happens to everyone all the time, lifelong learning involves actively maintaining a focus on learning and development. In doing so, you can make leaps and bounds in your career. It can even help you finally start a business and is instrumental in building a company that flourishes in today’s unforgiving economy.
To drive the point home, let’s take a closer look at the importance of lifelong learning for professional development.
A quality valued by all employers is the desire to learn and develop, often called a growth mindset.
By demonstrating this, you show that you’re willing to go the extra mile and continuously make an effort to become better at what you do. Employees with this ability are most likely to move up the ranks and achieve the most in their respective fields.
Many people who find themselves in a position of unemployment make the mistake of thinking that job-seeking is their only option. While helpful, just as important is using your free time to take advantage of any coaching, training or mentoring opportunities that are available to you. This can help you escape unemployment sooner.
Employers also pay particular attention to people who have transferable skills.
For instance, let’s say two employees are potential candidates for a promotion to chief marketing officer. The one who possesses skills beyond those required in marketing such as communication, listening, creativity and problem solving, will naturally be more likely to get the job than the one who is nothing more than a marketing guru.
Lifelong learning contributes to a broader set of skills that increases your advancement opportunities. In addition, you have the ability to enter different sections within your career path, or even outside of it. This can make for a more interesting and exciting work life where you frequently enjoy new experiences.
Not everyone is lucky enough to land their dream job after school. This can lead to an unsatisfactory and unfulfilling career, even when the pay check is more than sufficient. Lifelong learning can help alleviate the situation by equipping you with the knowledge and expertise required to enter the field you really want to work in.
Depending on how you learn, you can even obtain qualifications that are versatile in nature, meaning that your career prospects aren’t limited to a specific industry or field. This is true for many different programs, a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) being a good example. This post from Aston University details more information about the career prospects of an MBA.
The benefits of lifelong learning for professional development are clear and simple. But what resources are available to facilitate your new pursuit of knowledge? Plenty. The following are a few to help you get started:
- The Internet: From simple resources like blogs and discussion forums to fully-fledged online courses and programs, the internet is the ultimate resource for learning anything.
- Mentors: Someone with knowledge and experience in a field that you’re interested in can teach you what you need to know and reveal unseen areas for improvement. They can also help you avoid the mistakes they made when they were in your position.
- Literature and Books: Whether bought online or read at the library, traditional literature is no less relevant today than it was before the internet.
- Internships: Any form of apprenticeship can help you learn from qualified professionals and gain valuable hands-on experience.
These are just some of the resources you can utilise to participate in lifelong learning and contribute to your professional development. Let’s end things by looking at how lifelong learning can benefit your personal life.
The great thing about learning is that it doesn’t even need to have a specific purpose, as the act can be a rewarding experience in and of itself.
Compared to passive activities like watching television or playing videogames, learning is far more rewarding and has lasting benefits. Plus, it’s guilt-free. Knowledge is and always will remain synonymous with power.