You’ve graduated from high school or college, and celebrate your days of studying are over! Or are they? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking learning new skills comes to an end once you enter the workforce. If you think you don’t need to continue learning and growing, you risk being left behind in your relationships, career, and business.
Ongoing education and learning new skills is good for you personally and professionally. Gaining new knowledge through adult learning activities enriches your life in so many ways. The importance of keeping your skills up to date is critical to your ongoing success. No matter what is going on in your life, it’s essential to keep on learning and keep growing mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Why Giving Up on Learning is Bad For You
Anytime you do the same things over and over, you become bored with life, bored with relationships, bored with work, which means you aren’t challenged. When you stay within your comfort zone, this limits your opportunities to advance yourself, your career, or a business, making you irrelevantin a fast-paced world where opportunities quickly slip by you. By giving up on learning, you become less marketable for the future. When you are less marketable, your earning capability dwindles, along with your career prospects.
When you give up on learning new skills, you most likely become lost and fall behind others who are growing personally and professionally. When you experience the sensation of being left behind, it conjures up the feelings of “I’m not good enough.” Before long, you think it’s too late to learn anything new, which can lead to isolation and depression. This ultimately has a negative effect on your general wellbeing and mental health.
The Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Mental stimulation is great for your grey matter and keeps your brain young and active. Constant learning fights off degenerative diseases and improves your memory. Learning new skills helps you feel more well rounded, which contributes to your capabilities and exposes you to new opportunities.
When you embark on a lifetime of learning, you flex your brain like a muscle and form new neural pathways leading to continued growth and personal development. Although the brain is wired to create new connections and strengthen others as you learn is highest until the age of 20, adult learners often think through new skills in great detail. Ken Paller, the director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Program at Northwestern University, says that adults can better understand all that a task entails and can “think deeply about what they are doing wrong.” This means as an adult you have a greater capacity to learn new skills after you enter the workforce than you thought.
The old idea of working for the same company for 45 years culminating with a gold watch at the end of your career, is gone. According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average number of jobs most people will have in a lifetime is now 12. Between the ages of 18-24, the average number of jobs is 5.7, decreasing to 4.5 between 25 and 34. Between the ages of 35-44, this went down to an average of 2.9, and during the most established phase of their careers, most only held a job for an average of 1.9 years.
These statistics tell us that if you crave change because you hate your job, it’s never too late to learn something new. If you crave change because you aspire to greater things in life, it’s never too late to learn something new. If you feel too old or out of touch to make a change, here are six reasons why it’s never too late to learn new skills.
1. Higher Level Roles Require Different Skillsets
You would think a bachelor’s degree is enough for women to climb through the ranks into senior management. You would think a master’s degree is enough for women to promote into more senior roles. As you already know, there exists a glass ceiling for women in executive management. You may not realize that if you aspire to move up the corporate ladder, you need more than the technical skills and the qualifications you attained through formal college education. Ongoing professional development is critical to success, which in turn contributes to your personal growth.
If you aspire to greater heights in your career, you will soon be tasked with managing people outside your knowledge base and level of expertise. This doesn’t mean you need to become an expert in all things around you; you need a different skill sets. Managing and leading others is an entirely different skillset from what you trained for in college. To become a successful female manager or leader requires highly developed communication skills, strategic thinking, and planning skills.
2. Your Current Job Might Become Redundant
By 2026, approximately 1.4 million workers will need to re-skill because around 70% of jobs won’t exist anymore. Research tells us that 54% of employees will require upskilling, of which 35% will require additional training for up to six months, 9% for up to 12 months, and 10% for more than a year. This means that employers are likely to invest more in high-performing employees over those who have remained stagnant in terms of personal growth.
3. Learning Develops a Professional Network
Apart from feeling more capable and well-rounded, when you go back to school, take a course in person or online, attend a seminar or workshop, you begin to build a professional network of like-minded people and make new friends. You never know when these networks will come in handy when you have a problem to solve, or you need a referral to someone else in their extended network. Your networks help keep you accountable and act as quasi mentors when considering opportunities. They can also act as a referee should you need one if thinking of changing jobs or careers.
4. Learning a New Language is Important in a Global Economy
No longer is business limited to a local, regional, or national level; we live in a global economy. Upskilling by learning a new language for instance puts you at an advantage with companies who work with clients from all over the world. It’s easy to reactivate language skills you have stored in your brain when you focus on conversational language, not the mechanics. When language is no longer a barrier to success, it expands your horizon both as a potential employee and as a female entrepreneur.
5. Learning Gets You Out of a Rut
While you might feel confident in your roles in life, at work or in business, change happens with or without your permission. Becoming a lifelong learner ensures that you don’t get stuck in a rut. Learning something new gives you a new lease on life and keeps you fresh. Learning new skills empowers you and produces something tangible. In many cases, the skills you learn become useful and transferrable while keeping you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically engaged.
6. New Skill Sets Increases Your Career Prospects
When you become proactive about your career prospects and invest in yourself, you become more marketable in the future. Acquiring additional skillsets creates an opportunity for a big promotion, begin a new career, secure a higher salary, and helps you climb the ranks more quickly if these are what your goals are. Obtaining a certification lets your current or future employers know your newly acquired in-demand skills demonstrate a sense of motivation, professionalism, and commitment. A simple thing like taking part in an online course that culminates in a higher learning certificate is an ideal way to expand your current capabilities to advance your career.
Where and What to Learn?
You don’t need to be currently employed or even look to advance your career; you can learn new skills just for the sake of learning. Going back to school, learning a new trade, attending a seminar or workshop all contribute to your personal growth. Any learning opportunity including online courses can bring about positive changes in your life. You don’t need to wait until the kids have left home, or found a new job, or got that promotion you wanted. No matter your age, there are learning opportunities everywhere.
The first step to finding out what skills you want to learn, is to analyze what your learning goals are. Is it for fun, to advance your career, start a new business, earn more money, begin a new hobby, or give back to your community? Once you know why you want to learn new skills then you can investigate the many options available to you whether it is online, at a university, community college or something else again.
Before you discount the need for upskilling, however, accomplished you are, chances are your job will get boring. If your job becomes boring, you become stagnant. If you don’t want to continue to live out your working life in a job that doesn’t challenge you, perhaps it’s time to move on. Learning new skills might be the answer to unleashing a new career, starting your own business, or finding your passion and purpose in life.
If the 2020 Coronavirus taught us something, it was we must be prepared to adapt to change for nothing in this world is certain. The women who thrived during lockdown took what life dealt them and turned it into an advantage. By learning to adapt quickly many women were able to identify unique ways to thrive. It meant going back to the drawing board, getting creative, and learning what new skills they needed to keep themselves relevant. They understood it’s never too late to learn new skills.
Staying mentally active increases your knowledge base, enriches your life, and provides you with untold future opportunities. Whether you want to supercharge your current career or branch out into something new, learning a new skill or gaining a new qualification will never damage your life or career.