Learning should be a lifelong pursuit. Knowledge and experience enrich our lives in unimaginable ways. Actively pursuing continuing education is a commitment to self-improvement that is both personally and professionally rewarding.

Learning doesn’t require a classroom, though. Instead, it’s sometimes better to see the world as a classroom in and of itself. When we do this we open ourselves up to an appreciation of both the world and the people around us.

9 ways to incorporate learning into your life

  1. Success is contagious. In order to achieve our goals and dreams, it’s important to surround yourself with others whose success you admire. Watch how they handle success and rebound from disappointment. See how they manage stress, cope with change, and compete. Successful people are often very positive people. They have a voracious appetite for learning, a key attribute for those who strive for success. While you may have to “fake it till you make it,” you’ll see that those around you who have achieved success did so through hard work and an innate desire to learn.
  2. Focus is crucial. Commitment to any pursuit demands focus. Athletes don’t improve unless they train religiously. In a world with so many distractions, it’s easy to lose focus. Discipline strengthens the will, making it possible to block out interference. Set reasonable goals and reward yourself for sticking to them. Whether you’re learning a new language or studying for certification that will further your career, paying close attention to the matter at hand will ensure your success.
  3. Don’t multi-task. If you’re one of those people who’s convinced that you can multi-task, you’re wrong. Science has proven multi-tasking simply yields mediocre results at best. It doesn’t save time. In fact, it can be a waste of time. While we may have completed tasks, we are not likely to retain what we’ve learned as our brains are only capable of holding so much information.
  4. Learn from a master. Apprenticeship is making a comeback. Many young people today are searching for alternatives to building a successful career that doesn’t require a college degree. When you choose to learn from a mentor, you open yourself up to a unique experience. Knowledge can be researched, facts can be confirmed, but the wisdom that comes from another’s life and work experience is priceless.
  5. Share by teaching. The same can be true when we share our skills and experience with others. Teaching or mentoring gives you the chance to share your experience and gain new insight into the work you do. Mentoring a talented young person gives you a new perspective on both life and work.
  6. Follow your interests. Hold on to those things in your youth that interested you most. Many of us didn’t land in the field we studied for and have drifted away from our original goals. Don’t forsake your original interests once school is over. Follow them to see where they lead. You may be surprised to find that your past learning experience gives you a unique point of view when it comes to your current work. Pursuing other interests enriches our lives by keeping our minds active and our senses sharp.
  7. Walk in someone else’s shoes. We may not be able to experience first-hand what another’s life is like, but we should try. Understanding and appreciating what another individual must go through to live is humbling. It allows us to see outside ourselves and our own small world. When you put yourself in another’s shoes you replace sympathy with empathy. When we as humans empathize, we’re more prepared to listen and work toward a common good.
  8. Create. People who insist they aren’t creative may not understand what it means to create. Some people live very creative lives simply by the people and things they surround themselves with. Creativity can be expressed in the smallest and simplest ways. When we bring the spirit of creativity to what we do, or even more ambitious things we’d like to do, we allow for discovery. Discovery offers insight into ourselves and the world around us. Remember, at its root, creativity is play.
  9. Daydream. Recent neural research has shown that when we daydream and allow our minds to wander we enable our creative impulses. Free from the constraints of regular activity we gain a new perspective on ourselves, our relationships, and how we measure our success.

When we’re young, we’re eager to put school behind us and begin living our adult lives. The truth is the actual years we spend in school make up a very small fraction of our lives. But, when we commit to lifelong learning, our personal and professional lives are truly enriched. We find purpose and satisfaction in the incremental experiences that help us to evolve as individuals and making us better more successful people.