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Published on November 12, 2019

How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You

How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You

Contrary to popular belief, learning is a necessary part of our existence. Much like we need food for our body, our brain needs nourishment through information and continuous learning.

To live a life without learning constantly is utterly unthinkable despite people’s efforts. It’s this reason I’d like to argue that we need to stop resisting and to embrace learning for specific reasons. On top of that, I’ll explain the step by step process to train your brain to help you become a continuous learner.

Why Is Continuous Learning Important?

To quote Heraclitus:

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

All around us, change happens. We change careers, our personal lives, our community or business. Even if those changes are minor, they are still changes nonetheless.

But one thing we might not realize is that one of the most effective ways for us to handle change is through learning.

How is that possible?

Learning Keeps Us Relevant

The biggest reason is relevancy: both individually and in group dynamics.

Talent LMS raised some solid points for continuous learning, particularly for individuals and groups.[1] First off, this form of learning will allow the increase in knowledge and competency in our career and overall skills.

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For example, watching someone work can make us a better worker. It might also embolden us to explore alternatives or try new things as well.

But we really start to see continuous learning shine in group dynamics. These days, we all work in teams in some capacity. Not only do we need to get along with others but, what we are learning also changes the team to a degree.

Talent LMS explains that this learning will keep us up to speed with the changing environment in our industry. This is key because as a team, it’s crucial that a team is all on the same page and to work effectively. Part of that effectiveness also hinges on people’s ability to both change and learn.

Learning Prepares Us for the Unexpected

The future is unpredictable but continuous learning can help us with unexpected changes. By staying ahead of our learning, we are better equipped for drastic changes.

For example, we can learn about the general workforce and how the application process works to better prepare us for job searching. This can help if for some reason you lose your job and need to find other work.

Learning Boosts Your Profile

If you’re always learning, you are always improving. Best of all, you can put those skills into your own portfolio or resume. You can showcase these skills in various ways and in certain situations, you can get people to endorse those skills.

Learning Builds Confidence

A lot of us place our confidence in our own skills and abilities. When we turn something down, it can be for various reasons. However, those reasons can just be that we lack the chops necessary to fulfil what’s being asked.

You don’t run into that issue if you are developing continuous learning. You feel accomplished when learning new things and it improves how you view your skills.

Learning Will Change Perspectives

The final reason continuous learning is so important is the fact that it opens your mind. Having an open mind and willingness to take on new perspectives can do wonders for you.

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First of all, it builds your attitude to change. Being excited about change can affect others around you in a positive way compared to dragging your feet and resisting.

Secondly, when you take continuous learning into account, you can begin to understand how other people feel about a particular issue.

Knowing one side of an argument is okay. Knowing both sides is a lot better though. It allows you to not only understand a situation better but you can also help in a more effective manner.

How Do You Develop Continuous Learning?

Continuous learning may be simple on paper but there is more to it than consuming information. When looking at top industry leaders, they’re behaving in a specific manner.

Anderspink.com outlined some specific traits that individuals used that made them continuous learners.[2] They portrayed the following:

  • Always learning something new and sought out more
  • Had knowledge on various topics that weren’t always related to current roles
  • Were always looking for new experiences and doing different things
  • Knew about the latest trends and technologies in the industry
  • Maintain strong networks with well-connected people
  • Were active and visible on social media with respect to tracking and sharing recent developments

All of this easy to say, but it’s tougher to pull off all that right from the start. Here are my steps to help you get into continuous learning, but also to develop it.

Step 1 – Set a Clear And Specific Goal

Basic motivation dictates that if you want to achieve something you need to want it. No other gimmick or trick will work. As such, the best way to show you want something is to set a clear and specific goal.

A goal at its core is a habit and there are all kinds of methods to help you develop that habit. You can take a slow route and consider the Kaizen method.

Or if you want something more technical, look to BJ Fogg and his work on forming new habits. In his book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything , he explains three conditions that need to be met:

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  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger

This first step is the most crucial because if you lack motivation, there is little that will keep you moving forward. No one will willingly learn for the sake of learning as Roger Schank explains.[3]

So how can you find the motivation to meet these three conditions?

Sometimes, you need to find a passion that can boost you to do this. Examples of these passions come in many forms, some negative, but still effective:

  • Frustration – expressing unhappiness about the current state of affairs and want to change it.
  • Self-improvement – already have a desire to improve yourself in some fashion.
  • Status – a desire to feel valued and contributing to a change.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – you don’t want to be left behind and miss something important.

On top of that, these examples can also shape your goals. For example, if you’re frustrated with the current state of affairs with your group or team, you can learn how to solve issues in an easier manner or communicate effectively to get points and ideas across.

Step 2 – Create a Learning System (Or Program)

Once your goal is defined, the next thing is to build a system to help support your strategy. You want to be looking for diverse sources of information, but also to be picky about it.

Diversity is key for a variety of reasons. Not only does different opinions open your mind, but it also allows you to discover other angles to problems.

Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building with this philosophy in mind.[4] And we can apply that philosophy in our own learning. For example, reading a blog post on human psychology can make you a better communicator, sales rep, or marketer. How can that happen? That’s where the diverse bit steps in.

Allow your mind to wander and challenge yourself to connect the dots between those pieces of information. It could change your perspective or your overall approach to a problem.

But as I said above, you want to be picky about the diversity too. Your continuous learning system should be diverse, but also selective. There is a lot of information out there and while learning feels good, you don’t want to cram in the wrong information.

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Make sure that you devote most of your time to learning within your specific field. Furthermore, ensure the information is coming from a trustworthy source.

Step 3 – Empower Yourself with Various Tools

Either individually or as a group, you want to be using other tools to help enhance the learning system. There are all kinds of tools to help you present information and learning.

Seminars, workshops, and live classes are still popular training tools. That much is clear with platforms like Udemy and Skillshare that offer thousands of courses on various topics for cheap prices.

These are the tools that modern learners need as this grants learning from anywhere and at any time. Furthermore, those platforms give you have access to those courses so long as you have an account there.

Step 4 – Automate the Learning Process

The final step is to automate the process. The market for Learning Management Systems (LMS) is vast, and there is a wide variety of tools to help with that.

What these tools do is make the learning process easier. It saves you time scouring the Internet for blog articles and courses on the information. Instead, these systems present them normally in a feed-like style for easy consumption.

All that’s left is to tell the system what you want to learn and which one to pick. Anderspink is one company that offers a learning system. Other options are iSpring, Learn Upon, Mindflash and more. Each one has its own unique features, so take the free trial and see which one you like the most.

Final Thoughts

Continuous learning provides a lot of distinct advantages to your career and life. Not only does it keep us sharper, but learning can enhance other areas in our lives. And once we tailor our learning experience, we can enhance specific skills and speed up the learning process with various tools and platforms.

More About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever The Lifehack Show: Overcoming Anxiety Through Personal Agency with Dr. Paul Napper How to Delegate Tasks Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide) What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

When you look past the swarms of shallow content, the internet can be an extremely helpful database. Never before did we have access to such a vast amount of knowledge, and it is distributed for free. With the right sources, each and every one of us has an opportunity to acquire a decent level of expertise in any particular field. It is also worth mentioning how a lot of tutorials are now uploaded in video form, allowing us to learn much more efficiently, due to the fact that we retain more information from watching a video than from reading a book.

Passion for self-learning is truly great, since we are, in a way, always perfecting our skills and constantly improving. In addition to self-improvement, you can easily acquire useful skills, and become competent enough to earn a good income. Another advantage of self-learning is attention to detail. People who took the time to educate themselves about a certain topic did it because they loved it, and managed to turn their hobby into a professional skill. They are, in the majority of cases, their own boss. They take special care of their customers, and not because someone else ordered them to. Of course, sometimes your skill-set will require you to work for someone else in order to efficiently monetize it. However, thanks to self-learning, you may be able to advance to a better position within the company much easier.

Finally, even if you don’t have a passion for certain jobs, do not be afraid. When you fully invest your time and effort into mastering something, it eventually becomes interesting. As long as you advance at a normal pace, you are highly unlikely to back off from self-learning projects.

Here are some great suggestions of skills anyone can acquire, and in time make some profit within the next few years.

1. Become a self-made handy man

Due to the vast change in lifestyle, and various advancement in technology, modern job descriptions usually involve a lot of sitting and typing. It is quite rare to be a proficient handyman, considering how these skills were usually passed on from our mentors face-to-face. Moreover, our educational system has conditioned our minds to regard these professions as something only underachievers take up. This is wrong. These skills are actually essential for a normal life.

So, if the ambition of your parents stirred you in a different direction, and you had no chance to learn how to be a handyman, you can go through some tutorial videos to learn how to do some basic tasks. You can also learn how to repair items – as long as the job you have to do is simple enough.

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Once you have fully mastered your handyman skills, you can start charging for your services. Believe it or not, there are job platforms that are specifically designed for handyman and people who are in need of house projects.

2. Learn photo and video editing

The art of photography and video making are skills that will rarely be left underutilized. As long as you are creative, and have a sharp eye for aesthetics and composition, you can become extremely successful in this area. Once again, these skills are compatible with self-learning procedures. There are plenty of tutorials on how to manipulate videos and photography. If you don’t find this line of work appealing, or you don’t really like to pay attention to details, I strongly suggest that you do not attempt to master these skills, since the whole thing will start to irritate you pretty quickly.

Photo and video editing is extremely slow at the beginning. It is only once you are fully acquainted with the different software that you can do achieve greater speed and efficiency. Then again, you can grow to love these hobbies, since your progress is clearly visible, and you will always strive to bring your photography editing skills to the next level. Job platforms like Upwork or Elance are the best places to start you career as a freelancer. IT firms which develop games and posters are constantly employing people with these skills. When you look for a job, there is no need for prior academic qualifications. All you need to do is show the sample of your work. This is definitely a plus.

3. Learn how to blog or vlog

Blogging is a great hobby. If anything, you will hone your writing skills and find your particular style, allowing you to eventually advance to blogs of greater quality and higher authority. Bloggers are really popular, since they offer valuable insights, tips, and hacks for people who need them. In fact, the tutorial videos and articles that are mentioned here all come from bloggers and vloggers. Because of their usefulness, some become popular enough that they are approached by companies to do product reviews.

Now, becoming a minor celebrity is not easy, and relying on celebrity status to make a profit is foolish. Luckily, even regular bloggers with good writing skills are noticed. Their services are financed by small business owners, so you can easily operate within your own niche. Also, there are sites like CareerAddict that are willing to pay for a quality post, so you can build your portfolio and get paid in the process. When it comes to self-learning, I strongly recommend finding a niche you are comfortable with and blogging on the subjects that are close to heart.

When we see a channel with a ridiculous amount of subscribers, we always wonder if we could pull the same thing off. Making videos on a topic you love and getting money for it is a dream job, right? Well, you don’t have to be a professional in order to get there; however, solid video editing expertise is also required. You will also need to know how to be a good performer if you want to make your show more enticing.

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Another important aspect of blogging and vlogging is how you present the information that you have. You can be an expert data-wise, but if you are unable to efficiently transfer your knowledge or get your point across, you won’t be able to attract a massive audience audience.

4. Learn to be good at a particular video game

Becoming an active member of the gaming community can be a true gold mine. Personally, my dream was to get paid for playing video games, but realistically speaking, it would only result in me hating what I do for living, since it becomes your obligation and really takes all the fun out of it. Now that is only my opinion, plus it only applies to extremely popular games with competitive play, mostly MOBAs (like League of Legends and DOTA).

A great deal of people who stream their gameplay experience and make “Let’s Play” videos are making good profit out of the hobby. The website called Twitch is filled with streamers and some of them receive ridiculous amounts of money. However, you do not work for anybody. Basically, people donate their money as they watch you play. If you are considering this option, do not bother with mastering the games which are already popular, find what’s the upcoming trend in the industry and begin with it immediately. You’ll have the best chance of attracting visitors.

5. Software and hardware hacks

This one is really self-explanatory. We heavily rely on our computers, so both software and hardware problems present quite a challenge. Due to the sensitive nature of the stored data, we choose not to try anything, and immediately call for help. Well, self-learning can eliminate this feeling of powerlessness, and knowing your way around the brain of the computer will always be useful. This does not apply only to computers – smartphones, tablets, and consoles are devices that we use all the time and are afraid to fix ourselves.

In other words, buy an external hard drive and store all the essential documents there, so you’ll have no fear if something goes wrong. If or when something goes wrong with your PC or other device, just browse the web for help, people have definitely experienced the same problem before. Find solutions and try to fix it yourself. If you are going to pay someone to do it, attempt to fix it yourself first – you are already paying, so why not make it a learning experience.

I did not have much experience when it comes to PC problems, but have conducted more than enough experiments on my Xbox. I always used a forum for figuring out those problems. Trust me, once you are capable of fixing these problems you become a hero in your neighbourhood, and your reputations starts to spread. One day you can definitely charge for those services, or provide great tutorials on the topic.

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6. Become an expert on a particular subject

This one is closely connected to blogging and vlogging. A high level of expertise will be helpful, especially if you pick a field which was not explained thoroughly so far. Now it is also important how you present your subject matter, because if it isn’t fun, people won’t stay on your channel for long. This is what being an expert is all about. Finding the best way to explain something to someone who has no idea about the subject. We all love to learn, but if we are unable to understand the subject it becomes tedious. I recently started to watch crash courses on YouTube, and I was sad I did not have this during elementary school and high school. I found most of these subjects tedious, but now I just go through the videos one after another. I can’t help being amazed by how good they are.

Another good example of this sort of channel is Extra Credits. They are really good at giving tips for game design, as well as covering interesting events from history. In other words, find what you love, delve deep into that topic and provide some constructive criticism. You should try to incite good debates and introduce some new points of view. If you love a particular book series or TV series, express your theories or find other good fan theories, and make videos to incite engagement among the community. These kinds of efforts are always noticed, and people in a similar niche are always willing to help you get noticed. When it comes to self-learning these channels are outstanding and the community is indeed friendly.

Experts are always needed. By having proof of your expertise, you can find a job more easily. A lot of firms rely on their websites as marketing tools, but Google made sure that spam material is no longer regarded as a viable link. In other words, you need to have truly useful information on your site, the type of information an expert can provide. I recently stumbled upon a great blog on one website. You can actually find out a lot about law and rights and how it works. This is a topic people usually neglect to study, we only memorize a few rules which we see in crime and lawyer TV shows. There is another section about criminal psychology, which is a topic I personally find extremely interesting.

These were all examples how one topic can provide a myriad of unique content ideas for vlogging and blogging, as long as it is tackled in a correct manner. So, do your research, become an expert, show your expertise, and you will surely get noticed. Use the links as your guidelines to adequately transfer your knowledge on video or text.

7. Start inventing your own recipes

We have all seen those shows on 24 hour food channels, and yes a lot of meals look delicious, but when I look at all the ingredients they use, it just seems like too much trouble. Wouldn’t it be so much better if one could come up with a recipe for a delicious meal made out of things that are most commonly found in the fridge and cupboard. If there is one thing people love it is easy and delicious solutions, and this is quite hard to pull off.

You do not even have to be a professional cook to be famous, take a look at the Epic Meal Time channel. They rely on excessive use of bacon and other ingredients high in cholesterol, but their meals are simply awe-inspiring. You do not need to learn how to cook simply to have your own show, and there are many more advantages. Believe it or not, cooking can be helpful if you want to travel the world. There are many programs in search of cooks who are willing to prepare food for passengers on a cruise. The job is exhausting, but the pay is good. Plus, you get to visit all sorts of interesting locations.

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Cooking is one of the best examples of self-learning. After all,  you can’t become good from reading a recipe – you have to try it on your own, add a personal touch, and experiment with ingredients before you find the perfect balance. Here is a good place to start learning, it’s called the Cooking ChannelOnce you master some of the meals, you can add your personal touch to them.

8. Learn some artistic skills – illustration or photography

These skills are best combined with the previously mentioned photo and video editing. Being a designer and drawing what you want is great, but working for clients can be bothersome. It can be difficult to transfer someone else’s vision to the screen or a piece of paper. We live in the era of comic books, video games, and movies packed with special effects – good illustrators are always welcome. Once again, this is a dream big scenario, more down to Earth solutions include working for IT firms or designing covers for books and albums. Still, it is an impressive skill that can be attained through self-learning. Once again, rely on tutorials to aid you in your progress, and learn how to be a self-made graphic designer.

With all this new technology, photography is much easier now than it used be. Plus, with all the filters and different lenses, high quality photography takes up significantly less time. However, you’ll still need some sort of guide to get you started and a good camera, of course. After that, you can let your imagination and inner artist guide your actions. People are always willing to pay money for good photography. They need it for articles, blog posts, commercials, posters, web sites, etc. A good photographer is also hired to take pictures and record special events, making this another good choice for a self-learning career.

9. Learn how to code

If you know how to code, create, and maintain websites, you’ll have job in no time. It is hard to master, and will take some time. It is also not as interesting to master as other skills, but the pay is great. WordPress is the most learner-friendly platform. Everyone will tell you to start with this one if you are new to programming. In order to be good at coding you will need to learn programming languages, but after numerous drills, you’ll get a hang of it. I really love that one saying, “Programming is like writing a book… except if you miss out a single coma on page 126 the whole thing make no sense.” Unfortunately, this is quite true, and once you start learning you’ll see why people pay good money for this job. It’s not impossible to learn on your own, but buckle up for one uncomfortable ride.

Also, coding will not get the job done on its own. You’ll need to be a solid web designer to create a website that someone would buy. We have all seen poorly designed sites and did not bother to check what they were about, since no one is impressed with sloppy work. Once you master coding, go through some web design guides, and build your own website as a portfolio. You can start as a freelancer, and you’ll be able to find a job offer rather quickly. In other words, if you are looking for a high-paying self-learning skill to master, you can’t possibly go wrong with this one.

10. Learn how to present what you are capable of

Finally, in order to get the job and be chosen over your competitors, you’ll have to know how to present yourself. After all, you only got one shot at a first impression. Find out how to build your resume, find out what is required of you as an employee, and how to adequately express yourself during a job interview. You can be brilliant, but if you lack certain qualities of a good employee, you’ll have a hard time monetizing your skill-set. We commonly feel nervous during these situations. However, if you can manage to navigate through the interview correctly, you can score your first job.

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