A New Year will dawn soon, and it is time to think about our New Year Resolutions. Along with the usual suspects (losing weight, going to the gym regularly, cutting back on our excesses and the rest), how about considering something different this year? Could you think about investing in you and your learning? How about trying to be even better at what you do, gaining new learning to enable you to do more, or perhaps doing something different? Investing in you and your skills could bring you real benefits. You would be amazed at how much free adult learning is available to us (the BBC have quite a range of options available online), and there are many other options from the National Careers Service, where you can enrol for a Lifelong Learning Account and access their Action Plan and other tools.
Many New Year Resolutions seem to wither on the vine, to last for a couple of months and then seem less important than we thought. What are the things that could hold you back from investing in your learning, and do they really need to hold you back? It is interesting to me when I work with people to be the best they want to be, so often the things they think are holding them back are giving them positive side effects that they are unaware of. I once worked with someone who was desperate to give up smoking. By not doing so, she was getting a positive side effect of spending short but quality time with her MD during their smoking breaks. Having identified that this was an important positive side effect for her, we worked on other ways of getting quality time with her MD that did not involve cigarettes. By identifying all the positive side effects she was getting from smoking, and providing alternative ways of getting these effects, she was able to give up smoking two months later.
But let’s be more positive; what are the other benefits of learning, or lifelong learning as the catchphrase goes? As adults, we get to choose what we want to learn and the skills we want to develop. It is no longer about being sat behind a desk at school being taught “stuff”, and it certainly is not just about books. Learning provides opportunities to discover new skills and to acquire knowledge; it helps us to learn more about ourselves. It is an opportunity to be curious, to be excited and to renew our energies. Learning can help to keep our faculties sharp; it is exercise for the brain. Studies have shown that working on reasoning and memory skills slows down cognitive decline that can lead to the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
So here are five top tips for getting the most out of your learning:
- Pick the right form of learning for you. Whether that is attending a class, reading a book, surfing the web, or getting hands-on; whatever works best for you.
- Be adventurous; try different things. If you don’t like something, don’t do it again (but do try something else!)
- Remember you are learning. Something may not go quite right the first time you try it. This is okay; learn from what didn’t work and try again in a different way. There is no failure, there is only feedback.
- Enjoy the here and now of learning and let the end goal be secondary.
- Don’t be afraid of change and the opportunity to do things differently.
At the end of the year, be bold in your Resolution; at all other times, just be bold! As Bobby Kennedy said – “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
I dare you!