Now that we know what makes a lifelong learner, let’s dig deep to understand the steps that you can take to become one. My guest blogger today, Melinda Markfelder, provides strategic steps to become a lifelong learner.
Read what Melinda has to say about how you could be a lifelong learner (it’s absolutely crucial).
As a professional in any field, personal and professional growth should constantly be on your mind. Do something for your career every single day – even if it takes just five minutes. I’ve put together a list below of five things that you can do to take learning and professional development into your own hands.
1. Adopt a growth mindset. There are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed. Fixed means that you give up easily and that you believe you’re either good at something or not. Growth means that you persevere when facing challenges and that you believe you can learn to do anything you need to. Push yourself to adopt a growth mindset. When someone offers you feedback, take it graciously. When you get stuck and don’t understand how to do your job, seek a mentor, look for the answer on YouTube or Google – find an answer. Never give up, never surrender! If you believe you can, you can! Bottom line: accept challenges with a smile and keep searching for a viable solution.
2. Create a learning binder. I have a binder of conference notes, webinar notes, journal articles, and book summaries that I keep. When I’m problem solving or feel like I’m in a creative rut, I pull out my binder and flip through the pages. Something in that binder is going to jog my memory into problem-solving mode. The learning binder is a tool that works for any field. You decide what’s interesting and meaningful to you and keep it organized by topic. You’re not going to remember all of the content from all of the webinars that you took this year, so the learning binder is a great way to go back and review the major concepts you meant to implement but just forgot about.
3. Attend conferences. Conferences are a great for two things in particular. One: Networking. Bring a gigantic stack of business cards and toss ‘em out like Mardi Gras beads. Ok, be a little more judicious, but after meeting someone, slip your card into their hand and say, “I really enjoyed meeting you, thanks for telling me more about (insert their business name for extra brownie points), I’d like to chat more in the future.” Don’t forget to get their card, too. I like to scribble a note on the back of the card about what we talked about. After the conference is over, sit down, go through the stack and send an email to individuals who caught your eye. The second thing conferences are good for is keeping a pulse on the industry. Learn the buzz words, check out the new technologies, and listen to the “up-and-comers.” Look for who’s producing what and think about where you are going to fit into the industry.
4. Produce, produce, produce. You need to blog. You need make YouTube videos. You need to Tweet. You need to post comments in social groups on LinkedIn. These are things professionals of the 21st century do. You need to produce content and solicit feedback from other bloggers, YouTubers, Tweeters, and LinkedInners. Peer review of your content is important so that you can hone in on your communication skills, but also to listen to what others are thinking about the given topic so you can round out your understanding of the full issue. Part of a growth mindset is understanding that you can always learn something new from anyone.
5. Read what others are producing. Linked to the previous idea is to make sure you are reading what others in the industry are writing. Subscribe to journals, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn communities, and magazines. Don’t forget to pick up good, old fashioned books about your field as well (or audio books for those on the go). Each time you read an article or book, write about it and, at the very minimum, stick it in your learning binder.
Now, Melinda and I would love to hear from you. Which of these strategies resonate the most with you? How do you ensure you’ve been a lifelong learner? Write it down in the comments below.
This post has been specially contributed towards 30 Days of Awesome Learning. Also, don’t leave without becoming an insider. SIGN UP NOW. I’ll be emailing a great resource this Sunday. You’ll love it!
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