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Last Updated on September 2, 2019

Going Back to School at 40 Helps Create a New Golden Age: Here’s How

Going Back to School at 40 Helps Create a New Golden Age: Here’s How

When most people think of learning, they assume it is young people in their teens and 20’s who are the most able to learn and absorb new information.

You don’t often think of going back to school at 40.

But what if I told you that actually, some of the best students aren’t young people, but those who are older?

What if being older, isn’t an obstacle but a massive advantage? Not just in the classroom, but outside of it too.

Whether you’re thinking about going back to school or not. This article is going to explain to you how going back to school at 40, helps you create a golden age in 6 fundamental ways.

To make your life easier, I’ve created specific exercises for you to follow for each one, so I will be coaching you every step of the way to success. Ready?

1. Turn Back Time & Delay the Ageing Process

Let’s start with the facts.

You don’t have the same energy you used to. You have so much more going on. You’re already beginning to see grey hairs, wrinkles and signs of wear and tear.

Between juggling work, family, health, personal growth and everything else you do – why would you want to add more to your plate? Why would you want to add homework, assignments & extra reading on top of that?

You’ve already got the qualifications you needed and life is about way more than passing as test as a spotty teenager now.

Most people would assume this kind of added pressure would increase their stress levels and wrinkles.

What if I told you going back to school at 40 wouldn’t be even more draining, but would actually help you to slow down and even delay the ageing process?

Researchers based primarily at UCL in London carried out a study investigating how educational attainment effected pieces of DNA called telomere length. These telomere work to protect the edges of our chromosomes and diminish as we age.[1]

In their research, they found that lower educational attainment was associated with shorter telomere length. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that education is directly causing biological ageing, but what it does tell us is that it is one indicator.

Taking this further, neuroscientists at Ruhr-University Bochum found that, similar to young people, learning in older people also resulted in a surge of brain activity.[2]

This helped to improve things like perception & broader brain activity, and these benefits did not diminish over time as a person ages.

In other words, even if you are older, it is still not too late to go back to school and create a new golden age. You can still reap many rewards, one of them being ageing.

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What you should do now:

  1. Create a table of 3 columns, and on the left, write out a list of 20-30 topics or subjects that genuinely interest you.
  2. In the middle, write a short summary of why it interests you.
  3. And on the right, do some googling and write down the names of places or courses you find interesting.

2. Skyrocket Your Motivation

If you were anything like me, education was something you may not have understood the total importance of when you were younger.

Looking back now, can you honestly say you made the most of it?

Can you honestly say you learned to the best of your ability?

Are you OK with that potential remaining untapped – even now, decades later?

Going back to school at the age of 40+ means you have an advantage many other students do not have. Perhaps the most powerful advantage of all: choice.

Because you are choosing to go back to school, it inevitably means your focus and willpower have increased. Especially for those of you who dread the thought of learning again, and aren’t sure you can handle the challenge, I want you to remember this:

The simple truth is that you are not the same student you were before. The key reason things will be different is because you will get to learn not have to learn.

In many academic institutions, course, programmes I’ve been on, the people who are the most committed and engaged are often those who are a little bit older than average.

Gone are the days of doing things for the sake of it. Forget what you may have been like before.

This time, you have a chance to return as someone who really appreciates what they are doing, and understands the consequence of doing so. In doing so, you’ll be returning with a heightened sense of self motivation you may not have experienced ever before.

And you know what makes this even better? I regularly find with my coaching clients that this is a powerful way to open up great reserves of self motivation they never knew they had. The motivation gained from one area, boosts their motivation in all other areas too.

Just imagine what you could do with that extra confidence and self motivation in other areas of your life.

What you should do now:

  1. Write down and visualize in your mind your answer to this question: “If you experienced a powerful increase in motivation and confidence, how would it affect other areas of you life?”
  2. For each answer or point, expand on it by answering “Why is that important? What becomes possible for you as a consequence?”
  3. End by answering – “How do you feel now, after completing this exercise? Why?”
  4. Enjoy being a legendary motivated beast like none before. Send your answers to me on social media.

3. Use School to Remould & Expand Your Brain

When you think about your brain, what form do you imagine it takes?

Is it hard and fixed like concrete? Set in its path and unchangeable? Or is it more like jelly – lacking any structure or clear focus?

How you answer this question is going to determine whether the years ahead or golden, or grey.

I want you to understand your brain can change shape, just like blu tack. It isn’t fixed but soft, reusable and able to be shaped to serve to any purpose that you choose.

Going back to school at 40 will shake open the doors to a golden age in your life.

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But don’t take my word for it.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you decide to become a master at life drawing and oil painting later in life.

What kind of soft or hard skills are required for to improve in this area?

I’d imagine they’d be things like:

  • Creativity – to create pieces that are unique and inspiring
  • Spatial awareness – to be able to notice patterns in objects, people, places
  • Fine motor skills – so you can create detailed and enthralling pieces of art
  • Concentration – due to the long hours of deliberate practice
  • Oil painting/sketching – learning how different mediums work and when to use them
  • Analytical skills – learning how to improve every time you create something

Now let’s say you spend 1 hour per day practicing these skills and currently you have a very low rank in each of those skills.

We all know it’s true that the more you practice something, the better you get. But beneath the surface (of your skull) there are some interesting and exciting things happening in your brain.

Each time you practice shading in mid tones in your life drawing, or spend hours in flow focused on one task – the neural pathways and networks in your brain are busy firing and communicating with one another.

As you continue to develop your art skills, more of your brain’s processing power is dedicated towards those brain cells. In time, your brain learns to adapt. That’s why you get quicker, better, and more creative. Your brain is working to create more efficient pathways, even new neurons when needed.

Knowing this, how motivated are you now? Can you imagine what that would do for your confidence?

Going back to school presents you with new opportunities to learn and develop, and the most exciting part is all of those skills will be immediately transferable.

It’s not just a class or a school anymore, its training for the next golden age of your life.

What you should do now:

  1. Think back to a time you really sucked at something, or if you’re currently suck at something.
  2. Can you remember what your period of progression was?
  3. Notice where and how you got faster at that area. How did that make you feel? How did it affect your overall performance?

4. Become An Inspiration to Everyone You Know

How many people do you know who even entertain the idea of going back to school at 40, let alone take action?

Understandably, not very many.

Our lives very quickly get shackled down and dampened under the weight of our commitments and responsibilities. Some are forced upon us through circumstance, and others are self selected.

Anyone could go back to school, learn new skills, grow as a person and become happier, smarter and more fulfilled. But not everybody will.

It is not ideas alone that fuel the world, it is people that take action. And there are very, very, few of those. Dreams come free, hustle?

That’s sold separately.

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One of the oldest marathon runners in the world, and a person I hugely respect is a man called Fauja Singh.

There are tens of thousands of people who run in marathons around the world every year. Even those who participate in ultra marathons, and other extreme endurance events.

Clearly, they all require a high level of mental strength and grit. But there are two things that set Fauja Singh apart for me, from everyone else.

The first is the fact that even at aged 106, he is still running and participating in marathons.

I’m going to pause for a moment, very dramatically, to allow that fact to sink in: while most of us were sleeping, watching Netflix and eating cookies, this guy was running 26+ miles at the age of 100.

The second part, I love even more, as it goes to show it is never too late.

Now you might assume that Fauja had been running for years, and been a professional athlete for many years in order to be able to achieve this wonderful feat.

That’s the thing – he wasn’t. He started running seriously at the age of 89.

Again, let us stop and pause in admiration of this incredible man.

The key takeaway here is that he is a person with the same raw elements like the rest of us. He didn’t have some special gene, or talent, or resource.

It is never too late to pick up something new, and in doing so, you have the unique opportunity to become an inspiration to the people around you. (Here’s more proof by the way.)

As Fauja continues to run in races, he is now regularly joined too by the rest of his family and friends. Not only did he usher in a new age for himself of health, confidence and growth, but he brought others along with him too.

This could be your chance to do the same. We are social creatures and there is nothing like the praise, recognition and admiration of those we respect, to really boost our self esteem.

What you should do now:

  1. On the page you’ve been reflecting on this article, find a space and draw a circle with the word “People” inside.
  2. Create a spider diagram of 10 people who are the closest to you, that you care about
  3. Next to each of their names, write down how you going back to school could be an immensely powerful and positive thing for them. What would it mean for them to see you succeed at this? Why?

5. Trigger an Avalanche of New Opportunities

Going back to school by the way, doesn’t need to mean a classroom or academic environment. All it means is focusing your mind on self improvement in a particular area. After all, there are many types of intelligences out there for you to master.

Fauja Singh went “back to school” on the race track. In doing so, he triggered an avalanche of new opportunities for himself –sponsorship deals with companies, media requests and features, speaking requests, and more.

Developing yourself in a new area will mean you open the gates to opportunities that were closed off to you.

Like a secret mission being unlocked in a video game, you’ll be able to take advantage of what the other people around you can’t. A special all access pass to a whole new world.

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As an artist that might be being commissioned for unique pieces of work, or holding your own exhibition one day.

As a business owner that might mean being able to employ your friends and family, and build a closer knit world where you can spend even more quality time with them every day.

You can’t be what you can’t see.

Once you unlock a level of mastery in this new subject or area, there could be a whole world of incredible opportunity waiting for you.

Are you willing to take it?

What you should do now:

  1. Thinking of the subject or area you might go back to school for, write down a list of people who are already successful at it.
  2. For each of these people, create a list of opportunities they benefit from
  3. Now write down and reflect on how having those same opportunities would benefit you. What would it mean?

6. Develop Powerful Levels of Organization & Efficiency

As I mentioned before, going back to school aged 40 or more will be hard.

It’s likely you already have a lot of things going on. From ensuring bills are paid on time, savings are put aside for the future, and your family/friends are well looked after.

If this is a challenge you are going to take on, it will come with more pressure and potential stress. This means you will need to be even more organised and efficient than you already are.

Now you might be dissuaded but actually, this isn’t a bad thing by any means. In fact, the opposite is true: it’s a great thing.

If you can learn the skill of managing your time effectively enough to make this happen, you will be even better for it.

This is a chance to release a higher level of organisation and efficacy in your life. The successful, growth oriented person realizes that in the realm of uncertainty lies opportunity.

You can’t grow and win as much reward in a comfortable, certain place, as you can in an uncertain, uncomfortable place.

What you should do now:

Now that you understand why you are doing it. It’s time to take small steps forwards:

  1. Run the numbers. Sit down, get organized and create a clear idea of what you want to commit to and what that will cost. Not just in terms of money, but also time. There is no reward without sacrifice. So I want you to go into this as clear on what they may be.
  2. Consider alternatives. Are there any tasters you can try? Are there some part time courses? Something small you can do to test it out first? Maybe a free online course on a site like Teachable, Udemy etc. Is there someone you can speak to?
  3. Discuss it, get support and stay organised. Once you do take the leap, bring people with you. You are the sum of the support you enlist. Make sure you take care of yourself, and you stay organized.

Final Thoughts

Going back to school at 40 or above may seem like a big challenge, but it’s definitely possible.

All it takes is your courage to take the first step and get out of your comfort zone. There’re many ways you can start learning again to invest in something that will make you an expert. It’s really never too late!

More Resources About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Keshav Bhatt

Writer, Social Entrepreneur, Accredited Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

One of the biggest realizations I had as a kid is that teaching in school could be hit or miss for students. We all have our own different types of learning styles. Even when I was in study groups, we all had our own ways of uncovering solutions to questions.

It wasn’t only until later in my life did I realize how important it is to know your own learning style. As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information. This information could be crucial to your job, future promotions, and overall excelling in life.

Best of all about this information is that, it’s not hard to figure out what works best for you. There are broad categories of learning styles, so it’s a matter of finding which one we gravitate towards most.

What Are the Types of Learning Styles?

Before we get into the types of learning styles, there’s one thing to know:

We all learn through repetition.

No matter how old you are, studies show that repetition allows us to retain and learn new information.[1] The big question now is what kind of repetition is needed. After all, we all learn and process information differently.

This is where the types of learning styles come in. There are eight in total and there is one or two that we prefer over others. This is important because when reading these learning styles, you’ll feel like you’d prefer a mixture of these styles.

That’s because we do prefer a combination. Though there will be one style that will be more predominate over the others. The key is finding which one it is.

Visual Learning

A visual learner (also known as the spatial learner) excels at deciphering anything visual – typically maps and graphs.

If you are this type of learner, you likely excelled at geometry in math class but struggled with arithmetic and numbers. To this day, you might also struggle with reading and writing to a degree.

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While visual learners are described as “late bloomers,” they are highly imaginative. They also process what they see much faster than what they hear.

Verbal Learning

Verbal learning, on the other hand, is learning through what’s spoken. Verbal learners excel in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because of that, they are likely the ones to find thrills in tongue twists, word games, and puns.

They also thoroughly enjoy drama, writing, and speech classes. But give them maps, or challenge them to think outside of the box and they’ll struggle a bit.

Logical Learning

Not to be confused with visual learners, these learners are good at math and logic puzzles. Anything involving numbers or other abstract visual information is where they excel.

They can also analyze cause and effect relationships quite well. Part of that is due to their thinking process being linear.

Another big difference is their need to quantify everything. These people love grouping information, creating specific lists, agendas or itineraries.

They also have a love for strategy games and making calculations in their heads.

Auditory Learning

Similar to verbal learning, this type of learning style focuses on sounds on a deeper level. These people think chronologically and excel more in the step-by-step methods. These are likely the people who will watch Youtube videos to learn or do something the most.

These learners also have a great memory of conversations and love debates and discussions. Chances are likely these people excel at anything oral.

Also as the name suggests, these individuals have great musical talents. They can decern notes, instruments, rhythms and tones. That being said, they will have a tough time interpreting body language, expressions and gestures. This also applies to charts, maps and graphs.

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Social Learning

Otherwise known as the interpersonal learner, their skills are really unique. They don’t particularly excel in classrooms but rather through talking to other people.

These are the people who are excited for group conversations or group projects. Mainly because they are gifted with coming up with ideas and discussing them.

They also have a good understanding of people’s emotions, facial expressions, and relationship dynamics. They are also likely the first people to point out the root causes of communication issues.

Intrapersonal Learning

The reverse of interpersonal learning, these people prefer learning alone. These are the people who love self-study and working alone. Typically, intrapersonal learners are deeply in tune with themselves meaning they know who they are, their feelings, and their own capabilities.

This type of learning style means you love learning something on your own and typically every day. You also have innate skills in managing yourself and indulging in self-reflection.

Physical Learning

Also known as kinesthetic learning, these people love doing things with their hands. These are people who loved pottery or shop class. If you’re a physical learner, you’ll find you have a huge preference in using your body in order to learn.

This means not just pottery or shop class you enjoyed. You may also have loved sports or any other art medium like painting or woodwork. Anything that involved you learning through physical manipulation you enjoyed and excelled at.

Though this doesn’t just apply to direct physical activities. A physical learner may also find that they learn well when both reading on any subject and pacing or bouncing your leg at the same time.

Naturalistic Learning

The final learning style is naturalistic. These are people who process information through patterns in nature. They also apply scientific reasoning in order to understand living creatures.

Not many people may be connected to this one out of the types of learning styles primarily because of those facts. Furthermore, those who excel in this learning end up being farmers, naturalists or scientists.

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These are the people who love everything with nature. They appreciate plants, animals, and rural settings deeply compared to others.

How to Know Which One(s) Suit You Better?

So now that you have an idea of all the types of learning styles we have another question:

Which one(s) are best for you?

As a reminder, all of us learn through a combination of these learning styles. This makes pinpointing these styles difficult since our learning is likely a fusion of two or more of those styles.

Fortunately, there are all kinds of methods to narrow down which learner you are. Let’s explore the most popular one: the VARK model.

VARK Model

Developed by Neil Fleming and David Baume, the VARK model is basically a conversation starter for teachers and learners.[2] It takes the eight types of learning styles above and condenses them into four categories:

  • Visual – those who learn from sight.
  • Auditory – those who learn from hearing.
  • Reading/writing – those who learn from reading and writing.
  • Kinesthetic – those who learn from doing and moving.

As you can probably tell, VARK comes from the first letter of each style.

But why use this particular model?

This model was created not only for discussion purposes but for learners to know a few key things — namely understanding how they learn.

Because our school system is focusing on a one-size-fits-all model, there are many of us who struggle learning in school. While we may no longer go to school, these behaviors persisted into our adult lives regardless. While we aren’t learning about algebra or science, we may be learning new things about our job or industry. Knowing how to best retain that information for the future helps in so many ways.

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As such, it can be frustrating when we’re in a classroom setting and aren’t understanding anything. That or maybe we’re listening to a speech or reading a book and have no clue what’s going on.

This is where VARK comes back in. To quote Fleming and Baume:

“VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development- thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

Getting into the specifics, this is what’s known as metacognition.[3] It helps you to understand how you learn and who you are. Think of it as a higher order of thinking that takes control over how you learn. It’s impossible to not use this while learning.

But because of that metacognition, we can pinpoint the different types of learning styles that we use. More importantly, what style we prefer over others.

Ask These Questions

One other method that I’ll mention is the research that’s done at the University of Waterloo.[4] If you don’t want to be using a lot of brainpower to pinpoint, consider this method.

The idea with this method is to answer a few questions. Since our learning is a combination of styles, you’ll find yourself leaning to one side over the other with these questions:

  • The active/reflective scale: How do you prefer to process information?
  • The sensing/intuitive scale: How do you prefer to take in information?
  • The visual/verbal scale: How do you prefer information to be presented?
  • The sequential/global scale: How do you prefer to organize information?

This can narrow down how you learn and provide some other practical tips for enhancing your learning experience.

Final Thoughts

Even though we have a preferred style of learning and knowing what that is is beneficial, learning isn’t about restriction. Our learning style shouldn’t be the sole learning style we rely on all the time.

Our brain is made of various parts and whatever style we learn activates certain parts of the brain. Because of this fact, it would be wise to consider other methods of learning and to give them a try.

Each method I mentioned has its merits and there’s not one dominate or superior method. What method we like is entirely up to our preferences. So be flexible with those preferences and uncover what style works best for you.

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Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] BrainScape: Repetition is the mother of all learning
[2] Neil Fleming and David Baume: VARKing Up the Right Tree
[3] ERIC: Metacognition: An Overview
[4] University of Waterloo: Understanding Your Learning Style

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