Supporting Lifelong Learning

21st April, 20225 min read

To coincide with May's Learning at Work Week we’re reflecting on their theme of ‘Learning Uncovered’. How can we better support individuals to be lifelong learners, to take on training opportunities, and support their engagement in learning?

If you are a self-motivated person, it’s easy to jump onto the next course available and open yourself up to new ways of thinking. But, if you don’t find it so easy, what should you do? For 2022’s Learning at Work Week we’ve come up with 22 ways to get engaged in lifelong learning:

  1. Be open to the idea of learning. We ask our children to be curious, but often as they grow up this curiosity gets pushed aside as the day-to-day tasks take over. Challenge yourself and others to be curious. Ask questions and re-connect with your ability to be curious – I’m sure you’ll learn something new.

  2. Be confident in your ability to learn – don’t just think that because you haven’t sat in a classroom for a while it will be difficult. An easy statement to make, but a hard one to instil in practice. Use self-talk and surround yourself with people who will provide you with positive reinforcements. I can learn, I will learn, I do learn.

  3. Think about your preferred learning styles. Does it work better for you to immerse yourself in a book alone, or do you spark off others and get ideas from being involved in a workshop? Is online preferable or are you more at ease in a face-to-face workshop? Experiment with different styles. Move out of your comfort zone!

  4. Schedule learning time in your diary – make it a habit. It doesn’t have to be a full-day course, it could just be reading an article or listening to a podcast where you’ll pick up something new.

  5. Look to the people around you and work out what you can learn from them. Seek their advice and support. Ask them questions. Build networks with people who can support your learning. What can they teach you? Find and seek out people you want to learn from.

  6. Don’t put yourself under pressure to perform and be involved in every learning opportunity. Pick the options that most appeal to you, that way you’ll already be invested in the learning opportunity before you start. Conversely, if you are up for a challenge, don’t just stick within your comfort zone – challenge yourself to be involved in different learning opportunities!

  7. Ensure that you reflect on each learning opportunity as that will almost certainly open up other avenues for learning. Pause, review, put into practice, and decide what to do next. Discuss what you have learned with others, so that you share the experience.

  8. In your organisation celebrate the value and importance of learning. Be an organisation that encourages learning. And, if you find yourself in an organisation that isn’t open to learning, be an ambassador and lead the way!

  9. It doesn’t have to be work-based learning, look at the opportunities in your local area for night classes and vocational courses.

  10. Record your learnings in a journal. The act of writing it down will help to consolidate and expand the learning. Re-reading the journal will remind you of the journey you have made and the positive effects your learning has provided.

  11. Encourage others around you to learn, or to learn with you. Sharing a learning experience together builds rapport, strengthens your relationship, and the team ethic.

  12. “You’re never too old learn”, you might find it more difficult and more challenging but there’s always an opportunity to open yourself up to new skills and new ideas. Don’t be put off by the inner voice that says ‘I can’t do this’. Adopt a positive mindset.

  13. Reflect on the skills that you have and complete a gap analysis. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know anything about x.’. Say it out loud and then find a way, or a person, that can help support you.

  14. Sign up to learning subscriptions. There are plenty of free resources out there that will provide tips and support direct to your mailbox.

  15. Don’t make the excuse that you are too busy. Remove the barriers and carve out time for learning.

  16. Seek out a mentor or a coach. They’ll offer you encouragement and support and help facilitate your journey.

  17. Be focused. Think about what you want to achieve and then fully engage in the learning opportunity.

  18. Do your research! Take time to research different learning opportunities so that you find the right course for you. But don’t procrastinate – make sure you take action!

  19. Use technology – there is a wealth of online resources out there, so use them. Whilst you might want to enrol in a distance learning course, you could choose to join an online learning forum, or simply download a podcast. There are learning opportunities literally at your fingertips.

  20. Don’t just think about skills-based courses. Look at creative classes, mindfulness seminars or sports. A more well-rounded you means that you’ll perform better in the workplace, so don’t just home in on the skill set you need for your day job.

  21. Set yourself goals and create accountability for those goals. Reflect on both your short- and long-term goals. Continuous learning can have some quick wins but can also be an opportunity for more in-depth longer study opportunities.

  22. And finally, read every day. Even, if it’s just for 5-minutes. It could be a newspaper, a technical journal, a blog, a self-help manual. Whatever, just pick it up and give yourself a little time and an opportunity to learn.

What are you are waiting for? Why not get started now… I know I’m going to start with No 22. Flip the ’22 list on its head. I’m going to settle in the armchair and give myself 5-minutes to learn something new right now.