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Published on March 24, 2020

12 Learning Goals For Personal Growth And Self Development

12 Learning Goals For Personal Growth And Self Development

Learning is an essential part of life. The more you learn, the more you need to learn. As Harry Truman put it,[1]

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Your attitude toward personal growth and self-development through continuous learning is an important factor in how you succeed in life. In this article, I have highlighted some learning goals to help you become a better version of yourself and be more successful.

How Independent Learning Leads to Growth and Development

When you are dedicated to lifelong learning, you will experience development in key areas of growth. This includes intellectual, professional, social, and physical growth.[2] You can pick these areas of growth one by one and learn something to improve yourself. When you have achieved your goal in one area, you can then consider another area that also needs improvement.

There are different ways to learn, and these include reading, listening, webinars, online courses, mentoring and any other means by which knowledge can be passed and absorbed. You can also learn by observing people: friends, colleagues, bosses, or any other person whose lifestyle you admire.

Examples of Personal Learning Goals

We learn not just for the sake of learning but to gain knowledge and improve certain areas of our lives. Highlighted below are areas where you can set personal learning goals. There is a sample learning goal statement for each of the items on the list. You can adopt these goals or adjust them as they apply to you.

1. Develop Communication Skills

Your ability to communicate effectively plays a crucial role in your pursuit of success. This applies to both verbal and non-verbal communication to colleagues, clients, customers, friends, and families. While everyone cannot be an orator or great writer, we can all be great communicators by learning.

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In whichever industry you are in, having a goal towards improving your communication skills would be of great advantage.

Enroll in online courses to learn topics in communications, such as speaking to an audience, communication strategies for sales and marketing, effective corporate communication, virtual communication, etc.

2. Negotiation Skills

Whether it is about contract terms, business deals, salary, or prices of commodities, negotiation skills are essential to have at hand. They can save you tremendous time and money and can also give you leverage in your dealings with people. You might not be able to always get everything you want, but negotiation skills can help you get more of it.

Take an online course or read three bestsellers on strategies and skills for negotiating effectively.

3. Ethics and Social Responsibility

Sometimes we know what is expected of us, but at other times, we are not so sure. We often come across situations where we get confused about what we are supposed to do.

Knowing what to do and being able to meet up with expectations can boost your positive image and earn you a favorable reputation at work or in the community. It can also open a door to leadership or make you more effective in your leadership capacity.

Continue to learn about ethics and social responsibility by reading wide on the subject. In addition, read all available information within an organization regarding its ethics and core values. Read also the ethics of the particular industry.

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4. Teamwork and Flexibility

Some people find it easy to blend into a team, while others are more of the solo type. If you belong to the second category, you need to be intentional about being flexible and working in a team to achieve a common goal.

Learn to be open-minded, volunteer to help out, and ask for help from colleagues. Also, offer suggestions on solutions to fix a common problem.

5. Reasoning and Making Good Judgment

The ability to make sound decisions depends on how you can deploy your reasoning skills. Unfortunately, this is not something everyone can pull off easily, especially when it comes to making tough decisions.

A Harvard Business Review article outlined the following useful tips for making good judgments[3]:

  • Listening attentively or reading critically to turn knowledge into understanding.
  • Picking up what is not said and interpreting body language.
  • Cultivating sources of trusted advice: people who are bold enough to tell what you need to know and not what you want to hear.
  • Understanding, clarifying, and accepting different viewpoints.

Improve the capacity to listen and read information and intentions carefully to gain proper understanding and assess different viewpoints before making a decision.

6. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are described as the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problem.[4] It is being able to think about a problem and proffer an immediate solution or come up with ideas that can lead to a solution. The competitive world of work requires a great deal of critical thinking, and being able to fix problems is a great advantage.

Learn how to analyze and synthesize information and predict the future outcome of a decision. Use puzzles and games to develop logic and create mind maps to practice visualizing a problem and its solutions.

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7. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is also a component of problem-solving skills. It is described as visual thinking that gives one the ability to solve problems quickly using a methodical step-by-step approach.[5] Analytical thinking helps to break a complex problem down into smaller, manageable components.

Improve analytical thinking capacity by practicing brain games, reading books, and using the analytical approach in solving problems.

8. Creative Thinking

Thinking about new ideas and ways of doing things rather than the old way is creative thinking. It can also be referred to as disruptive thinking — bringing new, fresh perspective into current realities. In this era of innovation, creative and disruptive thinking are essential to achieve success at work.

Improve creative abilities by tapping into inspiration from books, videos, documentaries, and other sources. Create time daily or weekly to brainstorm and create something new.

9. Improved Memory

A good memory prevents us from forgetting important dates, facts, and deadlines.[6] Memory also helps us to avoid committing the error of omission due to forgetfulness. Such an error can have serious consequences on our work and business.

Boost memory by learning to memorize and recall. Learn a foreign language or learn to play a musical instrument.

10. Staying Organized

Take control of your schedules, activities, and routines by getting organized. Getting organized will give you focus, increase your productivity, reduce stress, and help you manage your time better. Some have assumed that being organized has to do with personality types, but being organized is really not an issue of personality. Anyone can learn and develop this habit.

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Learn more about how to be organized. Create a daily to-do list. Learn to keep things in their proper place and declutter regularly.

11. Build Self Esteem and Confidence

One of the ways to build your self-esteem and confidence is through reading. Reading equips you with valuable information that makes you knowledgeable and vast. It also makes you more intelligent as you will gain a broader perspective on issues, and this makes you more articulate and confident when communicating with people.

You can also build your self-esteem by learning to make positive affirmations about yourself. Read self-help books and make daily positive affirmations.

12. Toughness and Resilience

Your ability to stand strong in the midst of storms depends on how tough and resilient you are. Whether you anticipate them or not, there will always be some tough times on your success journey.

Learning to be tough and resilient will ensure that you don’t buckle when under pressure. It also helps you to keep your mind sane when working through difficult situations. Read biographies or watch movies and documentaries featuring heroic acts. Participate in mental drills.

Final Thoughts

As much as it feels good to learn new things, consider perfecting an area of learning before moving on to something else. You might have a number of things to improve on (and you should), but you can’t take on everything at once. When you have chosen your learning goals, put a timeframe on each of them. You can also create a yearly calendar for your learning goals and pick them one after the other.

More Tips on Learning

Featured photo credit: Seven Shooter via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone would have said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.

They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for anyone to ace it on their first try.

Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is, that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.

That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Every time you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop. You’ll have to go through multiple feedback loops before confidently executing the skill.

What separates a fast learner from a slower learner is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because the fast learner understands how they learn, and has a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.

So the good news for you, is that if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you just need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.

What is a Feedback Loop?

When we talk about feedback, it simple means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.

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A Feedback Loop is made up of 3 stages:

  1. Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
  2. Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
  3. Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.

It’s important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.

Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.

A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.

1. Be Consistent

Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.

For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.

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Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.

2. Be Quick

Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.

On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.

So, the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.

For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.

Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.

Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.

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The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is Accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve on the next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.

3. Be Accurate

Obtaining accuracy in feedback becomes a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accuracy” means.

To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all! Can you recall yourself being in a similar situation?

In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance. This is so that you have a baseline, or something to measure up against, to look for room for improvements.

Quantifying is a way to accurately measure your performance. Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.

Let’s say you’re practicing how to dribble a basketball. The first time you dribble, your coach tells you you’re doing a good job. The second time round, you get better and your coach affirms you by saying you’ve done a great job! Sure, your dribbling skill has improved–you know it, your coach knows it, but by how much? And how can you further improve your dribbling skills? A good job versus a great job doesn’t indicate how well you’ve performed, and how much better you can perform.

But, now in the second scenario, if you manage to dribble the basketball up and down the court 4 times continuously without letting the ball slip, your coach tells you you’ve done a good job. In the second round, your coach now tells you to dribble the basketball up and down the court 8 times continuously without letting the ball slip. You managed to do that and your coach tells you great job! You can now quantify your improvement by the number of times you were able to dribble the basketball across the court.

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With a quantity attached to your performance, you’re now able to push yourself further by learning to dribble 16 times or more across the basketball court. You can even add in new obstacles like having to dribble across the court with an opponent trying to snatch your basketball. If you’re successful, you can try dribbling across the court with 2 opponents snatching your basketball, so on and so forth. You’re now able to easily quantify your improvement.

Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!

So now that you’re familiar with the Feedback Loop, are you ready to put it into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?

Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself, whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.

It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask, to find out.

In fact, the technique you’ve learned from this article is only part of our Learning Course. If you’d like to discover more gems that will help you speed up your learning and push yourself towards the goals that you’ve been striving for, check out our Learn Anything Fast Course.

Or you can find out more learning tips in these articles:

Featured photo credit: Adeolu Eletu via unsplash.com

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