For some individuals, learning is strongly associated with traditional schooling, and due to a disparity in experiences with education systems, this may present a negative connotation. However, education can and should be something that continues beyond traditional schooling. Lifelong learning is a practice with no standardized rules and a simple, self-appointed mission: keep learning in formal and informal capacities to further personal and professional development.
What Constitutes as Lifelong Learning?
There are a few criteria for lifelong learning. First, the initiative must be self-appointed; a lifelong learner is someone who chooses to continue learning and growing on their own without a prominent external influence. Lifelong learning must also be voluntary and motivated by a desire for self-satisfaction and development. Much of lifelong learning is informal and often does not require money. At their core, lifelong learners strive to keep an open-mind and actively pursue educational opportunities and materials in an effort to continually improve and grow as individuals.
How to Become a Lifelong Learner
Because the “requirements” are so informal, becoming a lifelong learner often starts with the simple decision of pursuing a lifetime of learning. After making this decision, individuals may want to identify what they want to focus on or where they want to start. Identifying things like their passions, their values, their aspirations, and more can be an important early step for fledgling lifelong learners.
Additionally, adopting an attitude that promotes a positive perspective of progress will be productive. Lifelong learners may choose to highlight small successes or document what they learn in order to keep track of their progress and celebrate every element of their journeys.
Deciding whether they want to learn a new skill, a new sport, a new language, or something else entirely can help guide lifelong learners in the short-term, but it is also acceptable to stick to a broader goal. As stated previously, there is no standard for lifelong learning as long as the motivation and drive are present.
Lifelong learners are consistent and self-motivated, and they tend to embrace opportunities for change and education. Choosing to be a lifelong learner means embracing a lifestyle that welcomes new information and promotes critical thought as well as personal growth well beyond the years of formal education.