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  • Writer's pictureAngela Stratman

Making Continuous Learning Part of Your Life



As we step into a new year, the pace of change in our professional and personal lives continues to accelerate. In this dynamic landscape, the importance of continuous learning has never been more evident. The demands of a rapidly evolving job market, technological advancements, and the complexities of the modern world necessitate a commitment to ongoing education. In this post, we will explore the why, how, and where of continuous learning, delving into its significance, strategies for implementation, and platforms where valuable resources can be found.

 

Why Continuous Learning Matters 

Unprecedented changes characterize today's job market. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and globalization are reshaping industries, creating a demand for skills that evolve at an unprecedented rate. Continuous learning is the linchpin to staying adaptable and relevant in this ever-changing landscape. By updating and acquiring new skills, individuals position themselves to navigate the uncertainties of the job market and seize emerging opportunities.  


Even if you never intend to major or work every day in new technologies like AI, taking a free course to understand it is always beneficial. I had a boss once use "IoT" in an email, and I had absolutely no clue what it meant; after a quick internet search, I had my answer, but I still wanted to learn more about it because it was on his radar, and I didn't want to seem/feel incompetent.


Beyond the professional world, continuous learning contributes significantly to personal growth and fulfillment. Learning new skills, exploring diverse subjects, and engaging in lifelong education foster a sense of curiosity and intellectual stimulation. In an era where work-life balance and holistic well-being are prioritized, continuous learning becomes a fulfilling pursuit that adds depth and richness to one's life.


Remember, there are a lot of skills that can benefit you both professionally and personally; networking, negotiation, time management, goal setting, conflict resolution, and listening are just a few I highly recommend.  

 

How to Embrace Continuous Learning 

To embark on a successful continuous learning journey, setting clear and achievable goals is essential. Identify the skills you want to acquire, the areas you want to explore, and the milestones you aim to reach. Having a roadmap for your learning journey provides direction and motivation. Getting feedback from managers, co-workers, friends, professors, and even some family members can help you determine the areas that would be best for you. 


Next, establish a growth mindset. A Growth Mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Embracing this mindset is foundational to continuous learning. Understand that challenges are growth opportunities, setbacks are stepping stones, and the learning process is as valuable as the destination. I recommend the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck. Also, the book The Growth Mindset: a Guide to Professional and Personal Growth by Joshua Moore and Helen Glasgow provides great insight into maintaining a growth mindset.


If books aren't your thing, the digital age has opened access to education, with many online platforms offering free and paid courses. Websites like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy provide a wealth of resources across diverse subjects. Whether you're looking to upskill in your current profession or explore entirely new fields, these platforms offer flexibility and convenience. Later in this post, I provide a list of sites I recommend. (And no one is paying me to recommend them; they are just really well-designed.)


If you are a more in-person, hands-on individual, webinars and workshops provide interactive learning and networking opportunities. Many organizations and industry experts host webinars on specific topics, allowing participants to ask questions, engage in discussions, and gain practical insights. Keep an eye on event listings and participate in these virtual gatherings to enhance your continuous learning journey. The best way to find workshops or webinars is to connect with networking groups on platforms like LinkedIn, where ideas are shared, and these types of events are promoted.


As we navigate the complexities of a new year, continuous learning emerges as a cornerstone for personal and professional success. By embracing the growth opportunities, staying curious, and leveraging the abundant resources available, you position yourself not only to meet the challenges of today but to excel in tomorrow's opportunities. Remember, in pursuing knowledge, the journey is as important as the destination. So, let this year be the year you commit to the enriching journey of continuous learning.

 

Resources for Continuous Learning 

As I mentioned above, here are the resources I recommend.


LinkedIn Learning (linkedin.com/learning): LinkedIn Learning offers a vast library of courses on professional development, technology, creative skills, and more. It provides personalized recommendations based on your profile and career goals. I like this one because you can add certifications or courses to your LinkedIn profile as you finish certifications or courses.

Tip: 
If you have a library card, it is possible you can take LinkedIn Learning courses for free, now you won't be able to link your profile, but you can still learn and earn those certificates that you can manually add. Check your library's homepage to see if they include a membership to LinkedIn Learning.

Coursera (coursera.org): Coursera collaborates with universities and organizations globally to offer courses on various subjects. It provides the option to audit many courses for free, allowing access to course materials without a fee.


edX (edx.org): edX is another platform that partners with universities and institutions to provide high-quality courses. It offers both free and paid options, with the ability to earn certificates upon completion.


Google Digital Garage (learndigital.withgoogle.com): Google Digital Garage offers free courses on digital marketing, data and tech, and career development. It's a valuable resource for those looking to enhance their digital skills.


Grow with Google (https://grow.google/): Google also has a site called Grow with Google that provides free courses on various products. Many of Google's programs are in partnership with Coursera, listed above.


Microsoft also has a free learning platform (https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/training/): I like this platform almost as much as LinkedIn Learning, but it is strictly Microsoft product-based. If you focus on Microsoft products, I would recommend Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint in that order, as those have the most significant impact on today's employers.


TED-Ed (ed.ted.com): TED-Ed provides a collection of free educational videos and lessons on a wide range of topics. It's a great resource for those who prefer a more visual and engaging learning experience.


Remember, many individual software platforms have the training. You need to look around to find them. I hope these resources help you on your lifelong learning journey!



 

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