Entrepreneurship, small-to-medium-sized business management or working as a remote employee are roles that each demand a different kind of framework than the standard employee role. With the autonomy granted these positions comes greater responsibility as well as a need for greater self-discipline. What helps cultivate these characteristics are an open mind and zeal for finding ways to learn, gain new knowledge and develop.
74 percent of American adults consider themselves lifelong learners, and a large number of this group are professional learners pursuing career growth. With numbers like these, there’s plenty of momentum to go around. Willingness to keep learning throughout your life can mean the difference between staying put and moving forward in your career. Here are 5 easy ways you can make sure to never stop learning.
Cultivate a growth mindset
To experience growth, you first have to believe it’s possible, and that belief starts with your mindset. A growth mindset, according to research, not only supports the neurological function you already have but creates new neural pathways in the brain, allowing the retrieve-and-respond capacity of the brain to improve. This sets up the perfect framework for adult learning, regardless of the reason or purpose. But what is a growth mindset? In short, it stems from the belief that you can get smarter, as opposed to the fixed mindset which dictates one’s intelligence is exactly that, ‘fixed,’ and unable to change. A growth-focused mindset is the driving factor that stimulates motivation and achievement, and with practice actually prepares your brain through neuroplasticity to retain and retrieve new information more efficiently.
Read material on topics you’re curious about
Focus on subjects that naturally pique your interest and dive in. Whether you utilize your local library or download material to your favorite e-book platform, reading is an easy and effective way to continue the lifelong quest of learning. It’s a healthy habit, too, with some promising research suggesting that those with strong reading habits may be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life. Engaging your brain with the effort of reading in addition to the brain activity generated by processing new information absorbed through reading produces a double-whammy effect to promote comprehension as well as expanding your mind to new horizons. Plus, reading literature can make you more empathetic (or compassionate) to the emotions and experiences of others, which is an irreplaceable quality in any leadership role.
Integrate personal and professional development
Gone are the days of work-life balance, a term that UC Berkeley succinctly reasons “evokes a binary opposition between work and life.” Integration has the opposite effect and allows workers with multifaceted identities to let go of the idea of the perfect balance between work on one side and life on the other; integration acknowledges everything is connected. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can find high value in work-life integration for both peace of mind as well as productivity. Such being the case, it would make sense to integrate your personal and professional development. A goal such as seeking constructive feedback on your latest work project offers the professional benefit of obtaining valued advice as well as the opportunity on a personal level to strengthen your resiliency in the face of criticism. Another way to practice work-life integration is to draw parallels between lessons learned in your personal life and apply them to a challenge you’re detangling at work. For example, perhaps you have a new, complex client account that’s presenting a challenge because you’ve never been in this exact situation before. But if you take a moment, you can think of other difficult things you’ve done successfully that seemed insurmountable at first. Maybe it was a lifestyle change to improve your health, maybe it was filing business taxes for the first time, maybe it was learning to navigate a new city. Whatever the scenario may be, we can make the lessons we learned in one aspect of our lives go even further by applying them to other aspects of our lives, and become better, more well-rounded workers and individuals for doing so.
Make time for learning
As with most new initiatives in a busy professional’s life, you won’t just find the time to add to your day to learn new things – you have to make the time. The most effective way to go about this is to plan ahead and commit in advance, then schedule the rest of your responsibilities around your newly booked slots for learning. Try conducting an internet search to find personal enrichment seminars, workshops, or public speaking events to attend that will expand your horizons, like TED or TEDx conferences being sponsored in a nearby city. Libraries often host speaking events led by notable public figures like authors or historians, making for a simple, relaxed way to gain new knowledge. And don’t forget the wild success of online courses, which make it easier and more accessible than ever to broaden your awareness on any topic you could want to know more about.
Experiment with collaborative learning
Each of the steps covered here could easily be made into a group activity – start a book club with friends, enlist a coworker or two to attend workshops together – and research suggests our brains are better at learning in collaborative social settings. Consequently, surrounding yourself with people you find intellectually stimulating is a great way to make sure you consistently position yourself for situations that require you to expand your mind’s reach. Coworking offers an unparalleled opportunity for this type of collaboration, thanks to the broad scale of business professionals that utilize these spaces. In a traditional office setting, an employee is only exposed to colleagues within their own company, whereas a coworking space is comprised of many different companies across a variety of industries. Workers in the tech space who may never otherwise cross paths with workers in the interior design space, for instance, would then be given the chance to make meaningful connections with one another.
Venture X strives to provide high quality, flexible, collaborative spaces to business professionals who make up their diverse and varied membership. Contact your local Venture X today to learn more about how their leading coworking facilities can help you continue your pursuit of lifelong learning.