Yay! It’s officially back to school season. There is something awesome, new and shiny about back to school time. It’s exciting to buy new supplies (all those choices of folders and markers and organizers); experience the anticipation of meeting a new teacher and classmates. Oh the joy of learning new subject matter.
Oh, you thought I was talking about the kids? Nope, I’m talking about us as adults making sure that we don’t lose that back to school feeling by being constantly engaged in learning.
Adults Need that Back to School Excitement too!
Learning something new can literally change the structure of your brain. Learning new things speeds up how fast the neurons in your brain sends and receives information. When we’re young, we’re constantly in learning mode so we pick up new things faster. Typically though, we slow down after college, because we’re not exercising our brains as much. Our brains will default to automatic processes to avoid hard work.
Staying in learning mode and challenging your brain to learn new things on a daily basis improves your memory and how your brain functions.
So why do we lose that love of learning?
Making Time to Learn
It can be very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We can get so focused on just fighting through our task lists, that we forget about the importance of learning new things.
As a trainer, one of the most disappointing things is to walk into a class and have it be half filled, even though the registration roster was full. It’s disappointing that too many people don’t make learning and development a priority in their day.
If they do take time out for a class, it’s only a technical skill. Now that is important, but so is taking the time to work on those “soft skills” which are actually the harder ones to master.
I hear it all the time. “I’m too busy, I don’t have the time to take a class on time management. “ or “My workload makes it hard for me to take classes.”
One big tip that I have for folks, is that we all have the time, it’s what you decide to do with it that matters.
Successful people make the time for the things that matter and prioritize learning and development. For those who know the Covey Time Quadrants, this is a Quadrant 2 activity-it’s not urgent, but it’s important.
So Much to Learn-How Do You Choose?
Now that you are committed to making time to learn, what do you learn and how? First it doesn’t have to be a class. The Center for Creative Leadership shares that adults learn best from a variety of learning. Although I provide classroom training, I have to tell the truth that classroom training should only be about 15% of your learning mix.
If you want to get the back to school excitement going, here are some ways that you can spice up your learning and make sure that you are developing new skills:
- Find a Master Mind Group-a master mind group is a gathering of folks who will challenge you, help you grow and expand your perspective. The conversations will motivate you, inspire you and help shift your comfort zone. (A shout out to my #GoalGetters Mastermind group. So much of my growth this past year has been because they pushed me!)
- Join a Book Club-let’s start with making sure you pick up a book or 10. Read for pleasure. Read to learn a new skill. Read to understand different mindsets. Trashy novels, mystery novels, suspense thrillers, non-fiction, subject specific, biographies, etc. Reading is fundamental! Now that you’re reading—find a group of folks who like to read. Join or start a book club. Talk about what you read. Explore the themes in the book. Don’t have time for a book club? Get a reading buddy! Don’t have time to read? There’s a thing called audio book. Listen while you’re on the road. (BTW, my book club rocks!)
- Get a Mentor-there is much to learn, Grasshopper. A great mentor can truly expand your thinking and challenge you. If you’re not able to benefit from a formal mentoring program, then seek someone you respect and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. Share your goals and aspirations and ask them questions. Listen, talk, open up and explore. (Tip-you can have more than one mentor. I have been blessed with several mentors and seek their advise often.)
- Try a Side Hustle-a side hustle could be another gig, a job rotation or temporary duty assignment or even a volunteer gig. Learning a new job or task can do wonders to help you grow, learn new skills and gain a new perspective. (My side hustle turned into a 13+ year career that I love).
- Watch Some Videos- if you prefer watching a video to reading a book, I get you. Not all of us do well picking up a book, but will make the time to watch a video. My son loves to read and watch videos on things that interest him. Pick a subject and Google it. There are YouTube videos, Ted Talks, Online Summits. Loads of learning to be had. Just give it a try. (BTW I’ll be launching an online video summit very soon….stay tuned).
- Yes, Take a Class-continuing your learning doesn’t have to be about going back to school for another degree-although there’s nothing wrong with that. Each year, I look at what I want to learn and find opportunities. There are a lot of great ways to take a class to expand my skills. Conferences by industry organizations, certification programs, community classes, in house training, and online self study programs are all great ways to incorporate classroom learning into the mix.
There are no excuses!
Don’t be afraid to learn something new! Keep your skills and your brain sharp by learning a new skill or expanding your knowledge in a specific area.
So here’s your challenge. Pick a subject that you’re interested in and dive deeper. Find a way to go vertical and learn more about it.
Not sure where to begin or interested in bringing some training to your group? Click here to set up a time to chat!