Lifelong learning and the mindsets that will support you on your journey
Can switching up your mindset allow you to enjoy the benefits of lifelong learning? MeaningSphere's Roz Duffy share some insights.
I’ve been a learner for as long as I can remember. From kindergarten craft projects to learning professional skills like research, presenting ideas, designing workshops, and writing macros in Excel (haha, just kidding about the last one!). I’ve been somewhat of a reticent learner as well. I have often fallen into the trap of feeling that I need to do things “by the book” and comparing my results to others. This kind of learning is never fun for me. The most powerful learning experiences for me were when I didn’t have a book; I had to figure it out by doing. Like when I produced a theatrical-level event with an almost six-figure budget for the first time with only a shoestring level of experience. Or right now. I’m currently taking three different online courses spanning different personal and professional interests: creative collaboration, future thinking, and Internal Family Systems (IFS). And there are still more skills I am eager to learn, or think about learning at some point. I’m looking at you, dead plants. 🌱
But why does lifelong learning matter? For one, moving through life with a beginner’s mind, one where you’ve got an open mind ready to receive new information, is a life that is open to possibility, serendipity, and interesting experiences.
Learning is an opportunity to expand your mind, change your mind, and blow your mind. 🤯 Learning new things can help you learn more about yourself, make new connections (I'm talking about people and ideas), and enhance your personal and professional life. What’s more, learning is a huge component of having a growth mindset, which can deeply impact the way you move through the world, particularly when it comes to work. In fact, workplaces that embody the growth mindset are places where creative risk-taking is supported, and learning is rewarded. These conditions create cultures that are more collaborative, innovative, and resilient. Sign me up! Even simply asking the question, “What can I learn from this?” or “What have I learned from this?” can open up a space of deep reflection and powerful insights. If you’re feeling like the idea of learning is just one more thing on your very full plate, or a pesky fear of failure is starting to bubble up inside you, I invite you to get curious about the stress-is-enhancing mindset.
What?! Stress is a good thing? Well, sometimes. How you think about stress is key here. There are numerous studies, including this one about de-stressing stress, on this concept. When someone is exposed to the idea that stress is enhancing, it opens their mind to that possibility and changes their experience to a more positive one, versus the default stress-is-debilitating mindset that we might immediately associate with stress (which would impact our experience negatively). Here’s an example. Let’s say you decide to embark on some kind of challenge. Maybe it’s a physical challenge, a graduate-level program, or a complex project at work. At times, it’s going to be difficult. You will have to overcome hurdles. But if you stay connected to the idea that stress can be enhancing, you can start to embrace a vision of resilience, adaptability, and growth. In the words of Carol Dweck, Stanford professor and author of Mindset: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” While stress is not a good state to be in constantly, a little bit here and there, when viewed through the lens of growth, can help us expand in more ways than one. It’s also an invitation to reward ourselves with rest, a topic we dove into last month! So, as you reflect on your own journey of lifelong learning, consider these questions:
How can you approach learning with the curiosity and openness of a beginner?
What opportunities for growth and personal development are you excited to explore?
How can you reframe stress as an enhancing factor in your learning journey?
In what ways has learning added meaning to your life or connected you to your purpose?
How can you make lifelong learning a continuous and enriching part of your daily life?
What steps can you take to ensure that your learning journey aligns with your values and passions?
Roz Duffy is an independent coach and facilitator and works as a creative strategist at MeaningSphere.
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