The importance of continuous learning

So, you finished College, University or your trade course, started work or founded a cool business, it must be time to forget about learning and focus on making the most of the time you have, right?

Although it is fair to say you may reduce your hours of learning, learning is essential for the rest of our lives.  Developing a habit of upskilling your knowledge and skills is a very important factor in living a full and successful life.

WHY?

In terms of living a healthy life, those who love to learn and do so until the day they leave this earth, are more likely to avoid degenerative deseases like dementia.  They are also more likely to live a life of great social relationships where they are happy meeting new people and developing new contacts (outside of close friends and family) which is a proven factor in living a long life.

We can all improve our knowledge and as we grow older we can become ‘experts’ in the the things that most interest us.  It is also very healthy to keep our brain working on positive new learning adventures which bring us new rewards and pleasures throughout our lifes journey.

 

Ways to learn?

Continual learning does not mean we have study for our master’s qualification at University (albeit there is nothing wrong with that), it can be learning things we are most interested in or gaining new skills and knowledge for our chosen field of work, this could be through courses, mentor sessions, online study etc.

Learning can also be simply picking up a (reputable) book that provides insights into a new skill or way of doing something.

There are video’s, audio files and night classes after work at your disposal.  Most communities have centres where you can learn new skills, meet new friends.

Learning is more fun when you are learning a skill you would love to have.

A great way to learn more is to become an expert and teach others, this will drive you to become more knowledgeable and possibly join (or start) a mastermind group who help each other advance their knowledge. Most great teachers and personal coaches will tell you that learning for them is a fulltime activity.

It is also more fulfilling when you learn with a group of people who share the same interests expanding your social relationships, networks and providing your brain with the nourishment it graves for.

Learning new things is a great way to meet new people, develop your skills  and have more to talk about at dinner parties.  It is a great way to help you live a healthy and fulfilled life, and that is what it is all about – right?

 

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The importance of networking

Whether you are building your business or developing a career there is one essential skill that you must put time into – networking.

Developing a network is one of the most beneficial things everyone can do. Having a community around helps make running your business or developing your career so much easier for many reasons.

  1. You have a network of people that you can ask advice from.
  2. You have other businesses/people that you can partner or collaborate with.
  3. You have the ability to develop relationships with people and gain insight on a different perspective that you can use to innovate.
  4. Overtime you will build relationships where you help each other, share ideas, help solve challenges – within your network everyone will have something to offer each other.
  5. Businesses will increase sales (through network referrals) and individuals will be thought of when job opportunities match their skills.

However, many people struggle with building up their professional network; after all, when you are taking care of all of your other responsibilities how can you also have time to socialise?

So, yes we have to take time to build our network.  I am not talking about turning up to meetings but, consciously making time each week to develop your personal network.  Joining networking groups is a great way to start, however it is just that, a start.  Developing YOUR network is what I am talking about here, when you meet people through network groups, industry functions, training etc actively look for people who you could network with.

The best way to start is to think about how you can help others in your network, what can you offer them? Once you get started you will find over time your network will naturally sort it self out.

I have a number of ways I manage my personal network/s.

  • Coffee meetings (you do not necessarily have to meet with everyone at the same time)
  • Build my own network groups online (usually I will identify people in these groups I want to work with face to face)
  • I manage my own network group/s which meet either monthly or quarterly.

If you are new to networking join a group, work with others who you identify as great networkers, or ask your colleagues and contacts if they know of a great group.

I am a fan of starting your own network, nurturing it by looking at what you can offer those you meet with and working on this activity every week.

I hope this article inspires you to either start networking or refresh your approach to this skill.  I have no doubt it is the single most successful way to build your business or develop your career.

“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – often do”