Perhaps Dr. Seuss defines lifelong learning best when he says, “Think and wonder, wonder and think.”
Lifelong learners are people who look at the world around them and wonder:
Lifelong learners let their curiosity lead them down endless rabbit trails. They are constantly learning from everything around them. As a result,
- They make more money and climb the corporate ladder faster
- They have a sense of personal satisfaction
- Their minds stay young and agile
- They gain perspective
- They have great imaginations
- Their lives are more interesting
You might think of learning as formal schooling—primary school, high school and college. But, learning doesn’t stop for anyone as soon as the graduation announcements are in the mail—that’s when learning is just starting! For example, we learn how loans work when we buy our first car or house. We learn about health and medical conditions when we face a diagnosis. We learn about current events by watching the news.
Everyone continues learning throughout their life, but what makes lifelong learners different is that they actively and intentionally learn from everything around them. Some learn for personal reasons, others for professional reasons. Very often lifelong learners are just looking to satisfy their own curiosity.
There are many ways lifelong learners continue their quest for knowledge.
Reading is literally an endless source of knowledge on virtually any topic from history to parenting to philosophy. Most lifelong learners are avid readers of magazines, books, e-books, online articles and blogs, pamphlets—anything they can get their hands on. For those who find reading difficult or tedious, audio books are a great way to learn as well.
Counseling is a wonderful way to learn about yourself—an important component in being a lifelong learner. Self-discovery can lead to increased happiness, better relationships and a higher quality of life. Good counselors and therapists are equipped to guide lifelong learners through the process of understanding who they are, why they are the way they are, and what they want out of life.
Instead of mindlessly clocking in day after day, lifelong learners see work as an opportunity to learn and grow. They are often surrounded by talented people with either more or different formal education and experiences. These are great people to learn from. Lifelong learners often seek out mentors in their professional field as a source of knowledge and for inspiration.
Lifelong learners also attend a variety of classes. There are classes to satisfy any curiosity—painting, home decorating, gaming, business, computers, foreign languages, yoga, mechanics, writing. Community colleges offer an array of continuing education or adult education courses. Creative lifelong learners take advantage of classes at craft stores on things like arranging flowers and cake decorating. Others are eager to go to the Apple store and attend classes to learn how to use their iPhone or Mac.
Lifelong learners broaden their perspectives by volunteering at homeless shelters, nursing homes and foster care agencies. They travel to Europe and the Caribbean to learn about different cultures and people. They go scuba diving and hike on nature trails.
You too can be a lifelong learner simply by allowing your curiosity to lead you. Take advantage of every day opportunities to learn and grow, and seek out classes and reading materials on subjects that interest you. A word of warning though: The more you know, the more you want to know!