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Created on 12.09.2019

Lifelong learning – five tips to enjoy learning

There’s no escaping it: lifelong learning is a must for everyday professional life. But how can we get ourselves excited about learning and overcome a lack of motivation? Learning Coach Rita-Lena Klein provides five tips for finding greater enjoyment in learning.

For Rita-Lena Klein – who supports people in her practice with issues relating to learning – lifelong learning is not a luxury, but a necessity – especially in the age of digitalization. According to Klein, learning allows us independence from following other people’s instructions – and can even make us happy. At the same time, it is important to want to learn – and not to be forced into it. Here are her tips for getting a buzz out of lifelong learning:

Tip 1: when it comes to learning, always ask yourself the question “why?”

Lifelong learning will only work if you ask yourself what your "why" is. For example, do you want to learn something new to gain a level of expertise and in turn boost your self-confidence? Or do you want to learn because you’re keen to continue doing your job in the future? If you know what your (learning) goal is, you can draw your motivation from this. Next answer the following questions about yourself:

  1. do I need to learn anything in order to reach my goal?
  2. Is the goal sufficiently important to me, and am I prepared to undertake the learning required?
  3. Do I firmly believe that the chosen training or course will help me to achieve my goal? Am I convinced that if I apply myself I can achieve my goal? 

Tip 2: don’t confuse lifelong learning with drills and cramming

Do you associate learning merely with drills and swotting and trying to cram as many facts and details into your brain as you can in the shortest space of time possible? Learning in adulthood needs to be different, because cramming is not sustainable in the long run. In your professional life, it’s all about acquiring new skills. In addition to knowledge, you also have to attain competencies, which requires practice and training. Passively letting things wash over you doesn’t get you very far in lifelong learning. It is far more productive to actively understand things, so that learning focuses on the particular purpose and significance of the context.

Tip 3: acquire learning methods

There are very many valuable methods that can help you learn. The knack is in getting to know your own learning preferences and choosing the right methods. The following examples are just a small selection from a wide range of possibilities. What they have in common is that they promote positive emotions in relation to learning. They not only make learning easier, but also lead to more success, which in turn boosts motivation.

  • Categorizing and prioritizing: you want to learn a presentation by heart? Divide it into smaller learning units of ten minutes each. Begin with the first learning unit and repeat it several more times that day and the next day. Then comes the second session, and so on.
  • Learning in a group: do you have trouble learning in a quiet room? Then team up with others.
  • Associative thinking: ease your way into new topics by asking yourself what you already know about them. One such associative approach is, for example, theABC list. For each letter of the alphabet, consider what comes to mind on the subject of finances, as an example (such as A for ATM machine, F for free time (how much money do I need for my hobby) or P for payment methods (cash, credit card, etc.)). 

Tip 4: acquire knowledge to build upon it

First things first: your brain is the only organ that grows without getting bigger! It can therefore not burst – no matter how much knowledge and capability you feed it over the course of your life. But it can shrink if it is not stimulated. The more we learn, the more new nerve cells are created and the more our brain grows. And the more we already know, the easier it becomes to absorb new information. So if you are well versed in one area, learning more on this topic will become easier and easier.

Tip 5: persevere with learning during the plateau phase

You’re undoubtedly familiar with this: When you acquire new skills, you initially learn a lot through consistent and repeated training and the learning curve rises steeply – and after that comes the phase when the learning curve tails off. Despite devoting the same amount of time to training, learning stands still. Here you have reached the plateau phase of the learning curve. Hang on in there and keep going with your training! In such phases your brain is consolidating the new structures. This is enormously important for further learning progress. As soon as the architecture is in place, there is suddenly a marked improvement in progress once again.

Rita-Lena Klein is a certified learning coach and consultant and certified psychologist. At her competence consulting practice in Zurich, she advises and supports people of all ages to find their own strengths in learning.  

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