Apart from being addicted to books and Adidas sneakers, I’ve discovered that I’m addicted to learning. It’s not really about collecting credentials, although I am SUPER proud of my university degrees, it’s more about being curious. My recent Google searches include, but are not limited to: how to screen print a t-shirt?, why is there aluminium in deodorant?, can dogs get hairballs?, how do I train for a 5k (don’t judge me, I’m not a runner people)?, and what scissors do I need to give myself a haircut? You get the picture. I’m all over the place. But I just want to KNOW.
Learning is so much more than adding bits of knowledge to our brain cells. It’s progression, development, and self-discovery. It makes us more interesting, more well rounded, and probably more open to new ideas and opinions. I think learning goes far beyond the classroom and diplomas; it should be a lifelong pursuit.
Currently, I’m learning Italian, working on my knitting skills, and dabbling in Photoshop. I’m not pursuing these things to build my resume, I’m learning them because I WANT to learn them and I’m having fun doing it!
Full disclosure, I’m the first to admit that I’ve started and quit a million different hobbies and courses. I could probably pay off my student loans with the money I’ve wasted. But even through the trying and failing I’m learning what works for me. I’m very experienced in finding new things to learn and now I’m learning how to learn them more efficiently and cost effectively!
Here are FOUR things you should consider before you embark on a new learning…
1. What are you going to do with your new skillset once you’ve acquired it?
I once woke up at 5am on a Saturday (ew), drove to Lexington, Kentucky for the day, and spent approximately $500.00 to become a certified Zumba instructor. And then I promptly never taught a single Zumba class in my life. I could have saved myself some sleep and just lit $500.00 on fire to get the same outcome. I REALLY enjoyed Zumba. I went to class 4-5 times a week and had been a dancer in high school so it just seemed like a natural fit to learn how to do something you love, get a great workout, and make a little side hustle of cash. I didn’t factor into the decision that a) I was way too shy to get up in front of a bunch of women and teach them how to shake it, b) I worked a lucrative full-time job and I really valued my free-time, I didn’t want to spend that time working even more, c) one day of Zumba training is not enough to know what the heck you’re doing. So the moral of the story is that before you sign up for a 5am Zumba Instructor training course on a Saturday, think about what you’ll actually DO with that certification once it’s in your hand. Maybe it’s better to remain a participant rather than become the teacher. Maybe talk to your instructor first and understand their path to teaching and what they’d recommend for you. Outline your plan before you act on it. Know your “why” first.
2. Do I need to know EVERYTHING about the thing to do the thing?
Fun fact, I own a book called Learn Ancient Greek. I’m not kidding. I bought it when I was working on my master’s thesis that focused on some ancient Greek art. I thought, “hmm, I’ll probably need to know Ancient Greek to do my research”, and then I promptly bought the book on Amazon. It took me about .2 seconds from looking at the first page to know that this literally was never going to happen. Who in their right mind thinks they’ll learn Ancient Greek from reading a little book they just bought on Amazon?!?! ALSO, I didn’t need to know a word of the language to write a successful thesis because NEWS FLASH books have been translated into English. Would it have been nice to know Ancient Greek and opened access to more research resources? Yes. Was it necessary? No. Sometimes you can do a thing without knowing everything. It’ll save you time and about $5.70 in some cases.
3. How do I learn best?
For me, I really struggle to read an instruction guide and mimic what it’s telling me to do. I need to watch someone do it and then I can do it pretty much right away! I’m a visual learner. Some people learn by listening, some by seeing, some by doing, and some by reading about it. I think a combination of the different learning styles is the best, but the key here is that if you find your groove for learning then you’ll be able to decipher if you need to buy a book, download a video, or go see a demonstration. You’ll save yourself time and money by choosing the correct method of learning from the get-go, not starting with a demo, then trying a video, and then finally buying the book because you learn best through reading. If you reflect on previous things you’ve learned, try to remember how it came easiest to you, then rinse and repeat!
4. Is it necessary to take a course or get a degree to learn and do what I want to do?
If you want to learn about healthcare so that you can become a doctor, then obviously you’re going to need to drop bank and go to lots of school. It’s an investment and it’ll be worth it in the end. But if you want to learn graphic design to improve your art or marketing skills, you really don’t need to spend any money (except to buy the software perhaps). The Internet is a beautiful thing. I’ve taught myself how to knit and how to edit photos in Photoshop just with YouTube videos. I’m slowly learning and realizing that I don’t need to go back to school or sign up for a class to figure out a new skill. If I put my mind to it and I carve out the time to learn it then I’m fully capable of teaching myself and so are you! Of course not everything can be learned this way and maybe you aren’t a visual learner, but there are options. Explore them.
So get out there, keep learning, and never stop! Find your why and your how and outline your plan. The world becomes such a bigger and more beautiful place the more we learn.
** Originally published on Believe She Could **