I’ve always been fascinated by the power of a new year to inspire people to make big changes in their lives. Dogs don’t do it, fish don’t do it, palm trees don’t do it. Just us bipedal homosapiens at the top of the evolutionary food chain. The “New Year’s Resolution” is one of the most human of all human things to do in the new year. The top 3 New Year’s resolutions: Eat better, start going to the gym and make more money. I don’t have any scientific basis for what I just said, I just know it’s true. Tell me at least one of those wasn’t on your list, or more.
But what about our minds? What about that miraculous 3 pounds of grey matter that sits above our shoulders? Without it we wouldn’t have science, art, social structures and or consciousness. Why don’t we make more resolutions for our personal neural networks? Why don’t we resolve to learn more, to make education a priority? As we become adults and get into the daily grind of work we look at education as a thing we did in our youth to get where we are today. If learning did so much for us once upon a time, why on earth do we think it won’t have the same benefits if we do it now? The truth of the matter is “learning” of any kind has a host of benefits that can help us to dominate whatever we choose in 2018.
There are a host of benefits to spending more time learning. Here are just a few:
- Slow Down Time: Ever notice that as you get older the years seem to fly by? My Dad used to say “Enjoy every minute of your youth because before you know it, it will be gone.” I thought it was just old-man talk, but guess who’s the old man now? Every year seems to blaze by in the blink of an eye! There is a way to slow down time though, and it’s not magic: It’s learning! According to author Harlan Coben we can slow down time by doing something different every day. What is doing something different? Learning! So if you want to live a longer life, or at least feel like it, spend more time learning!
- Achieve More Happiness: According to psychologist Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, most social scientists put education at the top of the list when it comes to ensuring longer and happier lives. In an article in Psychologies Magazine, Vanessa King, a positive psychology expert, says “It’s actually a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy.”
- Make More Money: Most of you reading this that are earning over $100,000 USD/year have some kind of post-secondary education. The stats back it up:
Whether you achieved a diploma, a bachelor’s degree or a masters, you knew that doing so would lead to better financial remuneration than if you dropped out in grade 9. So why stop now? I’m not saying you need to get another degree, but learning of any kind can open the doors to new financial opportunities.
I’m Convinced, So Now What?
Okay, now that you’re convinced lifelong learning should be a priority for 2018, how do you ensure success? I can’t tell you what you should do, you’ll have to focus on what works best for you. Lame answer, I know, but learning is personal and you’ll have to find your own groove. The only suggestion I can give is to keep the learning spectrum broad. The idea is to “learn”, right, so only reading/learning about things you already know or have experience in kind of defeats the entire exercise. I’ll be spending time on science, emerging technology, the arts, as well as business-focused learning. I might even take up a new language (but don’t hold your breath).
How I’m going to get serious about learning in 2018? In the famous words of the late-20th century philosopher, Nike, I’m going to “Just do it!” I’m calendar and goal driven, so I’m going to set learning tasks and activities of all sizes, based on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly agenda items. Here’s what my learning calendar for 2018 is looking like so far:
- Daily: Read 3 articles (one at breakfast, one at lunch, one before bed) on FlipBoard. I read one last night about crows that completely blew my mind! Did you know that crows are smarter than chimpanzees and 7 year old human children? Now you do!
- Weekly: Read some long form blogs and listen to podcasts. My absolute FAVORITE podcast for learning new stuff is Radiolab. Check it out, you’ll thank me. Hidden Brain is another great choice for learning some mind blowing stuff about the world.
- Monthly: Read a couple of books. The two I just ordered for January are “Rework” by Jason Fried and “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel. I just finished reading “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, it’s a great summary of the entirety of human history!
- Quarterly: For this quarter I am leaning towards “Four Short Talks on Winning Against Strategic Threats to Your Business” at Rotman’s School of Business in Toronto. It’s a Ted Talk style event and all of the speakers look great!
- Yearly: Take a course. This one I have nailed down. I start an online course 2 days after my birthday on Marketing Strategy through Cornell University. One of the perks of working at Print Audit is that they pay the course fees for employees to take programs like this!
The company I work for, Print Audit, is making learning a top priority. 2018 is the “Year of Growth” for us and we’re going to use learning as a way to generate money for charity. Our goal is $10,000. We’ll get there by adding $10 leaves to our tree of growth everytime one of our staff members learns something new. A lot of small learnings can make a big difference. If people read an article that can help the business, or learn some other tidbit of knowledge that they didn’t know before those leaves are going to grow pretty quickly! The 3 people that add the most leaves to the tree will get to choose a charity of their choice to contribute to. Pretty cool, right?
Now it’s your turn! Are you fired up to learn something new in 2018? Are you already making lifelong learning a priority in your life? Share your ideas and knowledge because we’re eager to learn from you!