“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”― Mahatma Gandhi
Have you ever been guilty of saying something like, “That’s just the way I am. I can’t change?” But even if you refuse to change, the world around you refuses to stop changing.
If you prepare for change you remain relevant. If you fail to learn, change and adapt you become progressively more obsolete. Simply put, when you fail to change, you fail to prepare, so you prepare to fail. Click here to tweet this.
I’m a firm believer what you read and study is what you become. That’s why I consider lifelong learning a key to personal success. But I haven’t always been that way.
Growing up, I approached learning like most kids. It was a chore. Something to get done so I could move on to the fun stuff. I kept that attitude through my undergraduate studies and my grades reflected it.
Learning to survive
But not long after I graduated from college, I moved to the Mosquito Coast of Honduras where I lived for five years with my wife and our first child. There, learning was not optional. To survive, I was forced to learn constantly. I learned new languages, health methods, music, cultures, leadership skills, construction skills, carpentry skills, relationship skills, medical skills, agricultural skills, survival skills and Christian studies. And these “courses” were not graded, they were all pass or fail.
My success in any one of these areas depended on my own personal motivation. There were no classes. No teachers. No internet videos. Just books and trial and error.
Learning to succeed
When I came back to the U.S., I kept my passion for learning. I didn’t have a lesson plan. I generally looked for an intersection of my personal interests and my career path. Over the last 15 years my list of skills has grown significantly, including:
- Web development
- Pay-per-click campaign development
- E-books publishing and marketing
- Online marketing
- WordPress development
- Search engine optimization
- And more.
I also picked up an MBA along the way. And this time, I was no slacker. I put in the time, and energy, and my GPA reflected it.
Now learning is a habit. I learn for fun and for professional development. I’m currently studying mobile app development and patent writing. And I plan to work on projects for both in the near future.
Why you should be a lifelong learner
Research indicates that lifelong learners reap many benefits, including:
- Mental acuity
- Improved memory
- Increased self-confidence
- Career advancement
- New relationships and friends
Just to mention a few.
The internet has made the pursuit of knowledge easier than ever. Accessibility is no longer a challenge. The challenge is deciding what to learn.
One of my favorite online learning resources are blogs. That’s why I created one. I love sharing knowledge. But it also allows me to learn other things, like Web development, HTML, SEO, keyword searching, web copywriting, Photoshop, Adobe Flash, email campaigns, content marketing and more. It’s been a wealth of learning. And I’ve applied all of it to my personal career.
Some fun places to start learning
If you’re ready to start your lifelong learning plan, you may want to explore some of the resources below.
- Public Library – I still love libraries because you can touch the books. And now you can check out many books to your smart phone or tablet.
- Blogs – As of today, I have 344 blogs that feed into my Google Reader. Check out Google’s Blog Search.
- Search engines – I Google everything.
- YouTube – There is a how-to video for almost anything.
- Open Culture - The best free cultural & educational media on the web
- Lifehacker – Tips and tricks for getting things done
- Internet Archive – Massive non-profit digital library- Be sure and check out the Wayback Machine.
- Blue Letter Bible – One of the oldest and most exhaustive online collections of Christian literature.
In 1972, a slogan was created for the United Negro College Fund. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” has become a part of common American language. The slogan has stood the test of time and is true for people of all sexes, ages and races.
What are you doing to keep learning? You can’t give what you don’t have. And the more you learn, the more you have to give. So get to learning.