When I was a child I was certain grown ups knew everything. I assumed they collected that vast and complete body of knowledge in college, the magical place people went into as kids and came out of as adults worthy of real jobs. Now, of course, I know the truth: there is always more we need to know.
When it comes to learning, we can never experience enough. Because the world in which we work and live is constantly evolving, we must always be expanding our understanding of it. The minute you decide you no longer need to be taught is the instant you start to become irrelevant in your industry and boring in your dinner-party conversations.
A life of continued fulfillment is a life of constant learning.
It’s been said that everyone you meet has something to teach you, and it’s true that you can find opportunities for scholarly and spiritual advancement practically everywhere if you’ve the eyes to see. But sometimes we stop seeing.
Sometimes we get so caught up in maintaining and staying afloat that we forget how to spot the lessons in daily life. That’s why it’s a good idea to proactively train and challenge your brain. Here are three ways you to ensure you keep learning more in your field:
1. Attend an annual conference.
I recently received excellent career advice from a woman who has achieved success both in her own business and in a corporate structure. She said that all woman - but especially entrepreneurs - should commit to attending one conference per year. “Think of it as an investment in your continuing education,” she said.
Conferences can be fertile ground for new contacts and new insights. Be on the lookout for events both relevant and beyond your industry. Consider alternating between places where you’ll be reconnecting with colleagues and environments where you’ll be a newcomer forced to reach out.
2. Take advantage of online education.
The Internet has made it remarkably easy for humans to share information with each other. You can attend workshops with best-selling authors, watch presentations given by renowned scientists, and learn how to knit from fabric artisans - all from the comfort of your kitchen table.
The best way to stay abreast of the changing landscape - of your field or the world - is to read thoughts, ideas, and experiences from a variety of people in that landscape. Read the newspaper. Subscribe to a few industry blogs. Pick up a new book each month at your local library.
If you’re committed to using reading as a learning tool, make a concerted effort to look beyond the writers with whom you agree. Dive deeper into world views that conflict with your own and spend a little time challenging your value system.
What are your favorite ways to stretch your brain?
On a personal note, this is my last column here at Work It Mom. I’ve been contributing to the site for about five years now, and I have been honored to be a part of the mission to support for working women. You can stay connected with me on my blog or on Twitter.
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