Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. It is the only way to succeed in the dynamic world we live in. Formal education has a beginning and an end, but personal learning is a never-ending process. Abraham Lincoln had once said “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” However, lifelong learning is not only beneficial for our career, but it can also help us to reach our full potential through self-actualisation.
Eternal learning does not mean continuing education in the same field we pursued our formal education. The only requirement is to learn something new every day throughout one’s life. Lifelong learning can mean following our passion for languages, developing new innovative ideas or even improving our musical or artistic skills. Education has to take place on all levels simultaneously – physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual. There are infinite number of ways we can engage in lifelong learning to achieve our goal, some of which are mentioned below:
1. Read widely and often. This would help us increase our depth and extent of knowledge. Parallel reading on the same topic helps in expanding our horizon of vision.
2. Maintain active connections with people who are keen to learn more. This might seem difficult after formal education, but social media will solve this issue. Active discussions and deliberations with a like-minded lot will help us to be well informed and up-to-date.
3. Teach others what we learn every day. Teaching children even post-retirement is one of the best ways to continue one’s learning process. Teaching is not a one-way process; the student equally affects the teacher’s growth and depending upon how open the two sides are to learn from each other, the transformation is a flow between the two.
4. Keep a list of things to be explored. A planned learning process can be more productive and diverse. A curious and inquisitive mind will keep us going.
5. Starting one’s project will be a good initiative to start with, and if others can be included in it during the process, it will be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders in the project.
6. Experiment with the things learned. Practical application of acquired knowledge will help us to retain it as well as contribute to the society. For example, working with an NGO or tutoring poor kids who cannot afford formal education will be an excellent support for the society at large. This will encourage learning and collaboration.
Henry Ford had once said,”Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
An eternal learner usually exhibits few traits like curiosity, scepticism, creativity, willingness to take the initiative, perseverance and perfectionism. These qualities can be developed over time with regular reading and writing habits.
The more one reads, the more one thinks and the more one thinks, the more one will write. All the three form an integral part of the eternal learning process.