The benefits of continuously learning & pursuing further education

August 24 2018

What I mean by continuous learning is the ongoing activity and pursuit of furthering your formal and informal education by becoming a better version of yourself for the purpose of personal development. It can be through listening to podcasts or audiobooks, reading, studying online, attending tertiary education institutions or even practising mindfulness.

It can be expensive, but it can also be free. It will however cost time - it definitely requires a lot of energy. The most valuable resource we all share. However costly in time it is, many brilliant minds recommend continuously learning.

“Education is the movement from darkness to light” Allan Bloom.

It paves the way for our personal growth and innovation, and justifies changes in our life. I was told that striving to learn new things will reap greater rewards than I could imagine. And that spans out to more than just pursuing further formal education.

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” Aristotle.

It’s not easy, it’s really hard. Being consistent and disciplined with things is difficult. But that’s partly the reason why the rewards are so good, not a lot of others are persistent. It’s not hard to do, just pick up a book or download a podcast and spend some time actually doing it.

Reading about the slight edge, by Jeff Olsen. The small incremental things you do each day have a compounding effect. If I walk every day for 2km, I’ll be in better shape than if I didn’t, in a years time. It’s the small meaningful decisions over time that make you the person you want to become.

To take this further would mean being persistent with learning new things and furthering your qualification or knowledge base. If you read 10 pages of a good book every night, that’d be 3,650 pages in a year. That’s like 12 books in a year.

The small incremental actions make the largest difference in the long term.

Our daily routine is more important than previously anticipated. Every action you make carries value. It’s not too late to start. Jeff Olsen believes in planting, cultivating and harvesting. When you plant the action, idea or committment you must cultivate it until you can harvest its benefits.

Nothing worth doing comes easily. This isn't convenient and requires a lot of effort.

The little decisions you make every day are very similar to the big decisions you make.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school” Albert Einstein.

If we continuously make the effort to learn, the person we become is better prepared. Reading is the best way to get one on one time with some of the world’s most brilliant people. The things you can learn from peering into another’s perspective are tremendously valuable.

Better yet, you can read anywhere. Flight mode disables most devices on airplanes, but not old fashion books. You can read from anywhere in the world, you can better yourself from the comfort of your own home. With new tech too, books are more affordable than ever.

Life advice and career advice from those who have done it before can be obtained through reading. The people we look up to are precisely the kinds of people we should be learning from in our spare time. I aspire to be more like Richard Branson, so I personally own a few of his books.

Meditation is a great tool to adopt to become more mindful of your thoughts, reflect on previous actions or help guide your mood to be more productive. Meditate early in the morning on why you want to learn more, why you are doing what you do, what the objective is, whether it helps you achieve your dreams and reach your goals. In this way it can help you stay on track.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, life has enough stresses that occur naturally already. Copy those who have done it before you, and more importantly, those who have done it right. Follow in their footsteps and not only will you have a better shot at actualising your dreams, you’ll believe in yourself more.

It seems as though using small super productive periods of time is the best way to get a head of the pack. Its what does the job for a lot of people. You can focus for a short period of time, plan what is needed, do the job quickly and effectively, then go back to what isn’t a priority.

I’m trying to communicate a few things, Firstly, nothing is instantaneous, if it has value to your life or to anyone around you it’ll take time. Secondly, effort is required, it’s not free of cost, you need to value it yourself and invest otherwise there’s not point. It won’t be comfortable, it might be a lifestyle change.

Constant reflection of your own choices is a good idea. It helps keep you on track and assure yourself you’re learning more for your personal development. Being mindful of what you learn and why you’re learning it is a great way to keep on track.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” Benjamin Franklin

Pursuing further education may be a goal to increase your wages, change jobs, or get that confidence boost you needed. Whatever it is, we know you can do it - the benefit extends further than you. The best time to start was 10 years ago, the second best time to start is now.

More importantly, the type of further learning you pursue is important too. I’m an advocate for further learning in the realm of financial wellbeing, as these areas tend to be the most straining on relationships. Secondly, I believe another priority is building relationships, personal tools and positive habits.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” Malcolm X

Building the best you is an ongoing commitment. There is no destination, only a journey in which you become the person you’d like to be spending time with. It’s also important to be the kind of person you’d like to spend time with. Because you spend every waking moment with yourself, it makes sense to be okay being with yourself.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela

Pursuing additional learning could be the break into a job you’ve wanted your entire life, it could also be what you need to garner the confidence to build your own business or quit your job and travel the world. The only downside to all of this is the time it takes to learn. But there really isn't anything to lose.

“Education is the foundation upon which we build our future” Christine Gregoire

It seems like no matter what you want out of life, continuously learning can contribute to it in some way or another.

By Declan Cavanagh, UQ Student