What are you doing today to learn something new?
What can you do every day to learn something new?
And I’m not talking about mandatory continuing education. Although it would be great if folks held CLE courses to a high standard and didn’t just phone it in. But I recognize that is a problem too big for me to fix.
I suggest that making learning a part of your daily routine — a habit, dare I say — can do as much, if not more, than any single other thing you can do to grow. As a lawyer, a person, a professional, a friend, a spouse, a parent. No matter the role, you will be better.
It’s one of my three big goals: learn something new. Every day.
It’s not hard. And only takes as much time as you want it to.
READ. Find something to read that interests you. Blogs, books, magazines, research papers (which can actually be quite fascinating).
TALK. Find people to talk to. People who do things you’re interested in or want to know more about. This can lead to networking but it’s really more focused on learning new stuff. Though it’s interesting how connecting with new and different people can open up new and different opportunities.
TAKE A CLASS. Preferably a workshop. That’s hands-on. Yes, there are some good CLE courses out there, but most are not great. And anyway, this is an investment in your learning, not in getting mandatory CE credit. Explore your interests, hobbies, passions, through a class, either live or online.
GO TO CONFERENCES. Get out there and meet people. Some conferences are very good. Others are not so. Do some research, figure out where the intersection of your interests exists, register, and GO.
LISTEN. Listen to what interesting and smart people have to say. Really listen. Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, NPR during your commute/run/walk.
FIND OR CREATE A GROUP. Gather together some like-minded or even not-so-like-minded folks and meet on a regular basis to explore something or everything. I’ve done this more than once and have always been surprised at how much it added to my learning.
TEACH. The best way to really learn is to study something and then teach it to others. Beyond mastery, teaching is incredibly satisfying on many levels.
Before your mind goes to all the reasons you can’t adopt the learning mindset, let me say this: As with exercise, diet, meditation, or whatever you do to stay alive and healthy, choosing to make time for learning is a choice. You can choose to make it a prioritized goal. Or not.
What’s not an excuse.
Access? Go online, spend 10 minutes on Google and you’ll have access to more resources on your chosen topic than you can possibly get through in your lifetime. It’s all there. Maybe the seminar you’ve chosen is expensive. So choose another one. Or take a course on Udemy or Skillshare or Coursera or Kahn Academy or edX.
Money? Nope. Again, 10 minutes on Google and most of what you find is free. Courses from the online sources above are free or very low in cost. Books from the library are free. Or join Amazon Prime (cheap, but not free), and check out ebooks.
Time? Well, this one’s on you. You either make time or you don’t. Make it one of your three annual/monthly/weekly/daily goals. Or not.
Lifelong learners are more interesting people than stagnant ones. This is just common sense. Don’t you want to be more interesting? And more interested?
You’re more likely to earn more than non-learners.
You’re more likely to have a healthier, happier, younger brain as you age.
And as Dan Pink shares in Drive, we humans need three things in order to feel motived in and satisfied with our lives: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Lifelong learning achieves all three.