I have noticed that as I get older and my days are filled more with household and family tasks, it is easy to slip into a routine without education in it. Most of us have overloaded schedules and screen-time distractions that keep us from even thinking about learning something new – running your kids to practices or lessons of some kind, meeting work deadlines, making and planning organic and healthy meals that everyone will eat, spending time with friends or family, send this email or that report right away, etc.
Today’s work and home schedules make it difficult to just have dinner together, let alone take a course (online or not) or learn a new skill. However, continuing education will actually make you feel more fulfilled than accomplishing everything on your to-do list. If you want to advance in your career, you have to keep on top of new technology or techniques. Each summer, I attend track and field coaching clinics to learn new drills and coaching techniques so that practices can be more productive. Also, those that continue to learn or have advanced educations have been found to maintain a healthy brain and memory function at an older age. Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” In addition to a healthy brain, learning something new could connect you with more friends and family. A more connected network will hopefully leave you feeling fulfilled and noticed.
Here are some things that I have been trying to incorporate into my days and weeks so that I make sure that I learn something new as often as I can:
- During your next Netflix or Hulu binge, take a break and switch to the Smithsonian Channel (my new favorite), National Geographic, or the History Channel. Just the other day, I confirmed what my son thinks is hilarious – Turtles can breathe through their butts!
- Take a course. If you find yourself isolated or secluded, go take a class at your nearest dance studio or gym or horseback riding barn or community college, whatever! If you don’t feel like driving somewhere, take an online course. I took an Astronomy course online and it was great for summer night star-gazing with my son. Right now I am taking an online Copyediting course through Writers Digest. It’s difficult, but hopefully it will improve my writing technique!
- Learn a language or take up an instrument. Learning to read music or speak and understand another language has been proven to increase grey-matter in the brain, which affects analyzing and synthesizing/processing information. It also increases a person’s attention span, ability to multitask and cognitive skills (test taking, vocabulary skills).
- Spend thirty minutes a day reading something. Anything! Pick up a magazine or a novel or even a manual. There are numerous benefits to reading, one of them is that you may learn something about what you are reading. “The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that know nothing.” –Voltaire
- Pick up a hobby. Cooking, gardening, crocheting, athletics, etc. are all things that you could get involved in that teach a skill. The more you do it, the more you learn. You may even make some new friends while you’re at it!
- Finally, if none of these works for you, simply go out and observe your surroundings. Go for a hike and take in the different trees, riverbeds, or hillsides. Or go to your main street, grab a coffee, and look around. People-watching is a favorite pastime of mine.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you learn something new. There are health and social benefits. As I said before, I’m taking a copyediting class now. What are you doing this week to learn something new?