I am a big supporter of formal education, having attended college and University after school, I enjoyed that education and what it gave me. More recently, my own PhD, although offered by a formal learning institution at Bournemouth University, it involves research and feels like a kind of hybrid of formal and self-education. However, today I am writing about the virtues of lifelong learning in the form of self-education, and how to ensure you engage in it on a regular basis.
“Formal education will make you a living; Self-education will make you a fortune” – Jim Rohn
Degrees, certifications, and trainings are all very important for professional and personal development, I believe that and have experienced it. However, many people underestimate the power and benefits of self-learning. To be great at anything, you have to be dedicated as a life-long learner. Self-paced learning and self-initiated learning are very important parts of the process.
As humans, we need
to cultivate a lifelong learning perspective. Whereby you seek to develop,
advance and know more continually. You will progress through life better and
more effectively if you keep that attitude throughout your life. You will feel
more fulfilled personally as a result of always growing in your knowledge.
It’s not just about knowing more about the world or life in general – I have attended courses, read books and explored research about therapeutic parenting with a view to being a better Dad to my children. I’ve been on courses, sought out coaches, read research about how to run better and how to be a better athlete in the gym. We can all benefit from being self-educated in personal development and self-improvement as well as other more specific practical areas of life – cooking, gardening (areas I have explored in depth, for example) and much more besides.
Here’s some key tips and points to work at to become more self-educated and to become a lifelong learner.
1. Develop a super-confidence mode:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
This is just a mindset thing. If you learn to psyche yourself into a highly confident mode it can be genuinely transformational. Even just saying “I’m going to totally nail this” over and over in your head can move your mind to a state of positivity. You just have to do it proactively, particularly if you find yourself drifting into doubt.
Read these articles on building self-belief and self-assurance to apply to your own approach to self-education:
1. Believe in Yourself!
4. How to Accept and Depend Upon Yourself – Because “No-One Is Coming!”
This comes with a humility though, and a sense of being able to let new understanding, skills and knowledge supersede old ways and be ready to happily relinquish your grip on old knowledge every now and then, holding onto a confidence that you are capable of growing up and out of that stuff. That brings me nicely onto the next one, and the opening quote in particular…..
2. Collect and revisit the days:
“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow
We all have good and bad days. We all have moments when everything just goes right. It is important to really capture and remember how you feel in those moments so you can revisit them when you need a confidence boost.
According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest (Dunlosky et al., 2013), if you really want new material to stick, the best way to study is something called “distributed practice.” That means that if you want to master a new concept, your best bet is to study hard for a short period, take a break, and then have another go at it, spreading intense bursts of learning over a long period of time. Consider teaching what you learned to others too, it’ll reinforce what you learned greatly.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others:
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle
Most people fall into the trap of always comparing themselves with others. And many start with an assumption that they are not as good as other people. The truth is you can only ever be as good as you can be. It is pointless comparing yourself negatively with someone else. You will also have your own style of doing things. That is good. There are many different ways to approach any situation in life. You just need to find the way that works for you.
Do read this article for more on this point:
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
4. Ask for feedback:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
If you doubt your
abilities, just ask someone to give you some honest feedback on how you are doing.
Most people will tell you, and be quite happy to. And when they tell you, you
will feel your confidence soar. You might be surprised just how much motivation
you will get listening to their honest feedback.
Remember also, that if you discover areas that you can improve upon, then this is a great opportunity to do just that. Be confident in your ability to improve as per my first point and then apply yourself to that goal accordingly. Use anything that seems negative as an opportunity to grow!
5. Read a lot:
Old fashioned reading has not lost its place in our society. The amount of information available to us now is a great benefit, if you use it. Don’t go a day without reading something. Read books if you can, read research, read articles, read reports. If you desire your life to be better, one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways is to search for reputable blogs from industry leaders, and read them too. Search the internet for related websites that feature the kind of information you’re looking for. If you don’t want to travel to the library, you can buy books on your phone or tablet in an instant. I could go on and on about this point, but I have done so before, read this article for more on this:
6. Utilise available online resources:
Another good way
to improve yourself is through the use of online courses. There are some really
good choices out there and often times you can find courses for FREE! Udemy,
Coursera, and Lynda.com are some of the great resources for self-learning. You
will easily find a course that meets your needs on one (if not all) of these
sites. Most online courses offer a very active blog, podcasts, and Webinars
that provide value to their audience. You can read the reviews of former
students before signing up to any of the courses to make a more informed
decision. These courses are sometimes taught by industry experts (track down
those that actually are) and offer access to the instructor, as well as the
ability to go back to completed sections.
These initial courses may also help you recognise an area that you’d like to go and study in more detail that you decide to invest yourself in further and deeper with a reputable training institution.
7. Gain practical experience:
Getting better at anything requires a decision to spend time engaging in activities that improve your skills. People who have become known for being great at their craft has also been known for spending an exuberant amount of time learning. Most often, you don’t hear about these people spending all their time enrolled in college courses or obtaining certifications. These people spend most of their time self-learning.
One (non-formal) study conducted by Google vice-chairman Sebastian Thrun suggested that self-study, in addition to being more affordable and convenient, is surpassing classroom learning as far as effectiveness. You can learn something new every time. That’s because you gather knowledge from various set of experiences and background. These experiences will make you better at your craft. All the reading, collaboration, degrees, or certifications won’t do any good if you don’t put enough effort in self-education.
8. Look for opportunities:
“I used to be really insecure about my self-education. I’m definitely always learning. But there’s many ways to learn. There are many, many ways to always be a learner.” – Maggie Grace
Understand that life will not spoon feed you what you need to know. You have to become aware on your own of the things you need to know to progress.
The key is to
determine the knowledge needs you have and actively look for opportunities to
fill in those gaps. To be self-educated, always be on the lookout for good
sources of information. You never know when they will show up.
Be honest with yourself, examine your own bias and reflect effectively in order to identify the deficits on your knowledge and skill.
9. Ask questions:
“We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.” – Stephen Downes
successful graduates of my own training college are typically those who asked a
lot of questions while in class with me.
Find good sources of information and be willing to ask them what others may think are stupid questions. If you are going to be self-educated, you have to get over the fear of looking stupid. You must focus on learning. The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.
You will come across knowledgeable people who can provide you with good information. You have to get over the fear that you will bother them if you take up their time with questions. More often than not, the people you meet will be honored by your interest in what they know. As a result, they will likely be willing to answer your questions—although they may not be able to do it when you meet them for the first time. They may want you to set up a time for the two of you to talk later—which will give you even more time to ask them questions.
You will show the depth of your interest in the topic by the questions that you ask. It will show that you have thought about the topic if you will honor them with good questions. In fact, people will not be as impressed by the comments you make as much as the questions that you ask.
10. Practice mindful listening
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” – Isaac Asimov
If you are not asking questions of people, then you must be listening. Do not talk about yourself. Use the opportunity for learning. If you are talking, then you are not listening. And if you are not listening, then you are not learning. Engage in active listening whereby you listen deeply without thinking about what you want to say.
People will be glad to help you if you are first interested in them, so it is important for you to listen. They will think you are a brilliant conversationalist if you are willing to listen to them talk about something they are knowledgeable and passionate about. As a result, they may want to spend more time with you to learn about you because you were willing to honor them by listening. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion.
Even if you don’t think you can learn something from the person you are talking to, you should listen to what they are saying. In fact, you should listen to what they say especially if you don’t think you can learn anything from them. You will likely be surprised by what you can learn from the people you talk to.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” – Sarah Caldwell
Go enjoy regular and consistent self-education, you’ll enrich your experience of life greatly as a result.
Have some of these themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
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Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
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Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book, it’ll help you advance eating habits!