All this month we’re looking at learning for the long run. The benefits of lifelong learning are numerous and the possibilities are endless. It’s an investment in yourself that you will reap the rewards of every day of your life. Just to be clear, when I talk about lifelong learning I am speaking to you—regardless of your age. Whether you are 10, 20, 50, or 100, you would benefit immensely from embracing the concept of lifelong learning. The fact is, learning is a marathon. It should span the length of your life and be as second nature to you as breathing. It’s something that is integral to living your 100 Year Lifestyle—100% for 100 years…or more.
Defining Lifelong Learning
In order to understand how learning is a marathon, we must first define learning. If you are thinking formal education alone defines learning, you’re way off base. While there is no single accepted definition of lifelong learning, they all include elements of the following definition from a paper on the topic:
Lifelong learning is the life wide, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for not only personal but professional reasons as well. It does not only enhance social inclusion, active citizenship, and individual development, but also increases competitiveness and employability.
That definition covers a lot of ground because lifelong learning includes a lot of possibilities. You can engage in lifelong learning by:
- Learning a new sport or activity
- Developing a new skill
- Acquiring new knowledge through a course, training, self-teaching
- Self-taught study
- Learning to use new technology
So, if you’ve taken an online course, had a conversation which resulted in new thoughts or ideas, bought a new cell phone or computer and learned to use it, started learning Spanish from a coworker, started baking, or began listening to a podcast on an unfamiliar topic—you’re learning. If you do this throughout your life, regardless of your age, with no intention of stopping, it’s lifelong learning.
A World of Benefits
We have already seen that lifelong learning can keep your brain healthy. However, when you engage in lifelong learning you create a world of other long-term benefits and possibilities for yourself. First, if you are in the workforce you are making yourself a more valuable employee. Only 15% of hiring employers say that the workforce has the skills their company is looking for. Staying up to date on new information, and always being willing to learn more, will put you in that 15%.
If you aren’t part of the workforce, or perhaps your current job isn’t what motivates you, lifelong learning can help you create whatever change you desire. Learning gives you the positive experience and motivation to spend time doing what you enjoy. Self-confidence can move mountains!
Lifelong learning can also lead to a richer, more fulfilling, happier life. By exploring different areas you can find interests and even passions that you never realized you had. It is accepted that children need to explore many things in life before they find what they love. Few of us end up being cowboys or ballerinas, but thinking we might want to be is a valuable part of the process of growing up. Why does that process need to stop? Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 77. Carolyn Doelling first considered and became a fashion model at the age of 70. The option to explore life through learning doesn’t have an expiration date on it for any of us.
If you’re not ready for such major undertakings, not a problem! Start today by having a conversation with a stranger. Watch a documentary on TV. Do an online search about any topic of interest and immerse yourself for 15-30 minutes. The world is full of possibilities, and as a lifelong learner you can explore a lot of them!
Interested in learning more about your health? 100 Year Lifestyle providers are ready to share with you their knowledge and experience of how to keep your body running at 100% for 100 years. Find a provider today, and start learning today!
Curious to read more about your brain on learning, read more!