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Lifelong Learning for Every Man

According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of American adults have self-identified themselves as lifelong learners, and 74% of adults participate in at least one learning activity during a given year. Clearly, this is a culture that values lifelong learning, and yet improvements could still be made.

The potential for learning is all around us.

Whether you prefer to browse the stacks at a public library, take an online course, or connect with a mentor, your efforts to cultivate your lifelong learning will pay dividends.

The Importance of Lifelong Learning

There are countless reasons why lifelong learning is important, both on a societal scale and the individual level. In taking a broad view of the issue, one might consider the increasing globalization of the world economy and political systems.

It’s necessary to continually improve upon a society’s collective knowledge and capabilities in order to compete effectively on the world stage.

Along a similar vein, the rapid evolution of technologies demands employees who are capable of adapting and learning to use those new technologies for the betterment of their companies.

The pursuit of learning for professional purposes is one of the main categories of lifelong learning. This isn’t only important for employees; it’s also critical for entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be those who continually seek new knowledge and skills in order to identify the business innovations and operational efficiency tweaks that will drive profitability.

It could also be argued that the pursuit of lifelong learning serves to enhance one’s quality of life. Some people simply like to learn and consider reading, taking courses, and completing certifications to be enjoyable hobbies.

Mental stimulation is important for a person’s overall well-being at every stage of life. And for many people, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from learning something new contributes to self-esteem and self-confidence.

The Ways Lifelong Learning Can Benefit You and Those Near You

Men who devote themselves to the pursuit of lifelong learning are likely to find that it benefits everyone around them, as well as themselves. This is due in part to the humbling experience of learning something new.

Each time you acquire new knowledge, you are reminded of the many new things you have yet to learn. In turn, this serves as a reminder that everyone around you knows something you do not. In other words, everyone has something of value to offer, no matter what your personal differences may be.

Men who are lifelong learners tend to have better interpersonal skills. Because they recognize that everyone has something of value to offer, they are active listeners who strive to genuinely engage with others. They may also be more likely to practice active kindness, recognizing that everyone they meet is going through an invisible battle known only to themselves.

Lifelong learners also tend to embrace empathy. Because lifelong learners take the time to learn about subjects outside of their own personal experiences, they are better able to comprehend the emotions and experiences of others.

The Different Types of Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning is often categorized according to its purpose or its method, such as the following:

  • Professional: Many adult learners pursue informal or formal education as a means of furthering their career prospects, enhancing job retention, or transitioning to second careers. Employee development workshops and programs fall into this category, although not all professional learning is employer-mandated.
  • Personal: People who are passionate about learning often pursue their own interests outside of work, such as developing a new hobby.
  • Formal: Formal learning is typically defined as scheduled and monitored learning initiatives that often consolidate many students together into the same learning track. One example is a college degree program.
  • Informal: Informal learning is typically self-directed, and the methods are virtually endless. People can pursue knowledge in online courses (such as MOOCs, which may be audited/not for credit), books, educational magazines, and even informative YouTube videos. The Internet is a limitless source of knowledge.

Another way to approach lifelong learning is to consider your learning style.

Below, you’ll find the four main learning styles and guidance on how to find which one best suits you. However, you should note that many people don’t fall strictly into one specific category. It’s perfectly normal to learn well with multiple styles.

  • Visual: Visual learners understand and retain information best when they see it in a visual format. These formats include pictures, charts, graphs, and graphic organizers.
  • Auditory: Auditory learners prefer to listen to lectures rather than to read books. However, some auditory learners find that they learn even better when they combine auditory stimuli with visual or written material.
  • Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners retain information best when they practice it or experience it. You might be a kinesthetic learner if you’re hopeless with maps, but can figure out the route perfectly well by driving there. Kinesthetic learners do best when there is something that can be physically manipulated during a lesson.
  • Readers and writers: People who fall into the “read and write” learning style do best when they experience new materials through words. They tend to be avid readers who take lots of notes during classes.

The Most Effective Tips for Cultivating Lifelong Learning

Every man can become a more effective lifelong learner.

Once you’ve identified a purpose for your learning (i.e. professional or personal interests), you can figure out which direction to take. For example, if you want to make your career prospects more robust, you could enroll in a graduate school program or an online certificate course.

Even if your learning is primarily intended to fuel your own curiosity, you can use the following tips.

  • Ask more questions: Remember that everyone has something of value to offer. Ask open-ended questions and you might be surprised at what you can learn.
  • Go outside your comfort zone: Don’t limit yourself to learning new things about topics you’re already familiar with. Push yourself to discover new areas of knowledge that excite you. If you tend to read thrillers, for example, pick up a book of philosophical essays. If you enjoy learning about history, consider exploring the fascinating world of microbes.
  • Check other sources: Everything you read is written from a certain perspective. Take the time to seek out additional material on the same topic, but written by others to enrich and broaden your understanding of the material.
  • Teach others: The real test of one’s knowledge lies with teaching. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, teaching others is a fantastic way to learn more. Some high schools host continuing education programs that allow any adult to develop their own courses.

Reading personal improvement books is another effective way to further your goal of becoming a lifelong learner. Dr. John Shufeldt’s latest book, The Real Man Plan, explores how men can accelerate their evolution and make meaningful changes in their life. Combining scientific research with a common-sense approach, this book can serve as a blueprint for achieving a better life. Pre-order your copy today!