Last week, I talked about the importance of continual learning and self-education. Not only does it benefit your career, it boosts your confidence, exercises your mind, grows your connections, decreases stress, improves familial relationships, and brings you closer to God.
Now that you know the benefits of continuous learning, the question becomes: How do you create a habit of self-education?
Turn Intention Into Action
Many people argue that they simply don’t have the time. They hold full-time jobs and work long hours, they have children at home, they’re overcommitted as it is to volunteer projects, professional commitments, and social groups. I understand that each of these responsibilities makes ongoing learning a challenge. But none is a valid excuse for not making self-education a regular part of your life.
Continuous learning is the one differentiator we have in an ever-changing job market. Learning is what will enable me to take care of my family today, tomorrow, and for the rest of their lives. Every time I sit down to read a book or complete a lesson in an MOOC (massive open online courses), I view it as money in the bank. The more I prepare for the opportunities that might present themselves in the future, the more secure my family will be.
Integrate Learning Into Your Daily Habits
But let me be clear. Ongoing learning must be a sustainable habit for you to enjoy its benefits. Throwing yourself into an online course for two days and then abandoning it because you couldn’t maintain that breakneck pace is unreasonable, and you’ll gain little value from that approach. Instead, you should integrate learning into your daily habits. Here are a few ways that work for me:
1. Learn as part of your morning routine.
There’s nothing like starting your day with a dose of knowledge, which is why I use my morning routine to catch up on current events. I like to go out and pick up The Wall Street Journal, have a cup of coffee, and then read the news after my morning prayer and devotions.
2. Learn during your commute.
If you spend a lot of time in your car, podcasts and audiobooks will become your best friends. Download a podcast app or purchase an Audible account, and you will have no end of fascinating content to consume on your commute. Ask your colleagues for recommendations of great business books or podcasts if you’re not sure where to start.
3. Learn before going to sleep.
Lots of people struggle to fall asleep at night, which makes that a perfect time to get in some reading. Set your smartphone to the side and keep a physical book by your bed. Not only will the lack of blue light from the screen help your body settle down, but you’ll also get to absorb the information without being distracted by 30 different app notifications.
There are other ways to learn as well — ask someone out to coffee so you can pick their brain about their area of expertise, attend workshops, sign up for in-person classes. There’s no right way to structure your self-education, so figure out which approach works for you and integrate that into your routine. If you incorporate small doses of learning throughout your day, you’ll find yourself feeling more informed and intellectually invigorated in no time. Above all, never become complacent and never stop learning.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out Crown’s Career Boost Formula – 14 Career Skills Employers Look For. That’ll help you zero in on an area that interests you and boost your career.