Everything we talk about in this series will have a positive impact on your mind and your mind-set so in this article I want to concentrate on one thing. Self development.

If your head is full of clutter, stuff that stresses you out, is unimportant and not fulfilling you and enriching your life, then read on.

Each of us will have our own idea about what ‘the meaning of life’ is. I think it is a learning journey and that everything we do is teaching us something. I believe that if you are stressed, anxious and spending your time looking ‘backwards’ at what has been and not forward at what could be, then you will not be as happy or achieve as much as you are capable of.

I love the mantra ‘you either win, or learn – never lose’

And of course I am in the learning and development profession so it will come as no surprise that I extol the virtues of making sure you are feeding your mind by learning new things every day!

What are the benefits of lifelong learning?

  • You will be able to communicate with more people on more subjects
  • That will help to raise your levels of social confidence
  • In turn you will feel more at ease in groups
  • Your self esteem grows
  • You understand people better
  • You will start to see connectivity in everything
  • It’s interesting and you will be more interesting too!
  • It’s fun
  • It reduces your stress levels
  • It gives you something really positive to focus on.
  • At a very practical level it means you can do more stuff!
  • Perhaps you will discover a talent for music, dance or art.
  • It keeps your mind sharp as you get older
  • It helps you to connect to people ‘oh, I’ve read that, what did you think?’

I could go on. There are so many benefits to keeping yourself informed and enjoying the process of learning. Being brand new at something reminds us that we are still young enough to learn new things. It helps us to relate to others who are learning and to be more tolerant.

Okay – so I am going on. I am an advocate.

Let’s focus instead on some things you can do (practically) to keep learning every day.

Naturally there are always going to be options for formal learning. Colleges, Universities, night schools, classes, workshops and so on. That makes up 10% in the 70/20/10 rule of learning. I want to concentrate on the informal options that fit into our day and our budget.

Reading

There are many ways to learn through reading.

Ask the people you admire if they can recommend a book that they have read which made an impact on them. Then read it. Set aside a learning hour for yourself every day and read. It’s that simple.

Google search for books on subjects you think you’d like to learn more about.

Read the news to stay informed about what is happening commercially, politically etc. (celeb gossip may teach you something you can discuss at dinner but aside from social commentary it is not as enriching)

Read magazines, articles, websites, blogs etc. which are relevant to your world, but try some that aren’t too – you might learn something brand new!

Listening

Not much of a reader? That’s ok. I mention audio books in most of my articles because I am an avid ‘listener’ – it means I can multi task! Driving and listening, housework and listening, making dinner and listening. I also love to fall asleep with someone ‘telling me a story’ – but remember to set the sleep timer so that you don’t wake up 7 chapters later having missed it all!

Go and listen to some talks on subjects that you are interested in or would like to know more about.

Watching

YouTube can teach you anything, from how to fold a fitted bed sheet to how to create a website! One of my team when I was working in Asia developed his training delivery and facilitation skills before he joined us by learning from YouTube.

Watching documentary’s, historical drama’s and even Hollywood blockbusters can all teach you things, some more than others for sure but yes, that’s a way of learning too! Especially if they are based in fact or historically accurate.

Lift your head up from your mobile phone and watch what people are doing around you. People watching. Fascinating and a way to hone your body language reading skills! I often tell people I work with that we are all bi-lingual. We speak our own language and body-language at the very least. You can also pick up behaviours that you like and want to emulate.

Often watching and listening will happen at the same time!

Trying

Try new things. If you have ever heard yourself say ‘I’ve always wanted to….’then try it. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn to fly but the price is just too high, maybe there’s a simulation you can do instead? The same with skiing – try the dry slopes if you can’t stretch to the Alps, or buy a cheap guitar and find a YouTube tutor and give it a try.

There are so many options – just get yourself out there!

Reviewing

Never under estimate the power of thinking time after an event.

Let me give you an example. You have just had a job interview. Do you a) crack open a bottle of wine and beat yourself up for not being as brilliant as you thought you would be or b) sit and reflect, jot down your thoughts about where you think you did well and how you might do things differently next time… ? Then open the wine!

Do this at the end of each day (the reflecting bit, not the wine opening bit.. or both if that’s your thing!) and you will learn a LOT about yourself, your behaviours and how you can do things better next time. But applaud yourself when you have done things really well too.

Practicing

If something isn’t really working for you don’t give up yet. We all go through that stage in the learning journey when it all seems a bit much. Perhaps you are stuck on a particular chord as you learn to play the guitar, or you just can’t master the downward dog without falling on your face! Whatever it is – stick with it keep practicing and you will get over that hump. Not only that, but you will learn as part of the process. You will learn that you are capable of more than you think, you will learn new ways to do things so that you can get over that hump, you will learn how to learn!

Travelling

My favourite way to learn! Whether you go and have a weekend on Exmoor or travel to the Galapagos you learn so much from travel and exploration. If you undertake your travel as a learning experience and as an adventure of exploration you will learn:

  • The geography of your country, other countries and the globe.
  • The culture of the region or country
  • Other religions and how they influence the country and the culture
  • New languages, so much easier to learn when you are there – please try to speak the language of the country you are in. Even if you are a bit rubbish your hosts will love the fact that you are trying and it is very much more respectful.
  • Different cuisines – ask for recipes and the history of the dishes, ask someone to show you/teach you how to make it – you’ll make friends and learn things!
  • Architecture – why are the buildings built that way? What are the influences, what materials are common and why – it is fascinating.
  • History – again, ask people about their countries history, or the history of the area, the village etc. making friends and learning things enhances the experience of travel exponentially.

Go through life like a child, curious about everything. Ask why, learn and grow. It doesn’t only happen in a class room and it doesn’t have to stop when you are a ‘grown up’.

In closing, remember that if you fill your head with good stuff there is no room for the clutter than causes us pain and unhappiness. So replace the old with the new and you will be astonished at what you are capable of.

Happy learning!