You’re Never Too Old to Learn
The Power of Perpetual Education
“Knowledge is powerful. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” - Kofin Annan
Mastery is a myth. That statement may sound crazy on its face, but bear with me for a second. Do you really think any of us reaches a point in our lives where we’ve learned enough, grown enough, and progressed enough to say we’re content with where we’re at? Self-satisfaction breeds complacency, which is the enemy of improvement. Many times, we think we know it all, only to find out we have so much more to learn. Instead of seeing education a plateau you reach, I encourage you to view it as a journey that will last your entire life.
Think back to the days when you were just starting out in your current role. You probably had an abundance of zest and enthusiasm to learn everything you possible about how to excel. Over time, though, this excitement to learn can erode, leaving us feeling stagnant. When you cultivate a love of learning, you develop new skills no matter your age or position. When you always have the mind of an amateur, you avoid getting stuck in your ways. At a time when being able to adapt to innovation matters more than ever, maintaining a curious mind and willingness to learn is invaluable.
Why Education Should be Continuous
CPAs, like professionals in many fields, have to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits to “to maintain their professional competence and provide quality professional services.” While these credits are no doubt beneficial, the best education we can get is not continuing but continuous. When we adopt a growth mindset, we approach every day as a chance to become better both as a professional and as a person. We don’t need to be in a classroom or library to learn. We can motivate ourselves to do it all the time, naturally.
“When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation,” writes Carol S. Dweck in the best-selling book “Mindset.” Simply put, those who continue learning are those who grow the most. It’s very hard to grow if you don’t open your mind to new thoughts and ideas.
And learning isn’t just relevant to our professional lives. If you have a hobby you’re passionate about, you probably love to research and learn about it. Travel and culture teach us about different societies and provide us with experiences we’d never have otherwise. Mindfulness techniques and other forms of reflection help us to investigate ourselves and our environments. Truly, the opportunity to learn are everywhere. The only question is whether or not you’re taking them.
How to Become a Learner
To say you can simply flip a switch and begin seeking out every learning opportunity you can would be a lie. It’s a gradual process, one requires persistence and determination. It may also require eliminating bad habits that are keeping you from being receptive to learning. After the hard work up front, however, the actual learning comes easy. Once you genuinely love learning, education doesn’t feel like work.
It’s unrealistic to adopt an all-hands-on-deck approach. You’re not going to read five books per week all of a sudden. Set realistic goals and try to learn across a variety of interests. If you like to cook, say, try picking up a cookbook and attempting some new dishes. Go out to new restaurants and introduce yourself to new cuisines and ingredients. Stay up late watching “Chef’s Table” Netflix. The best part about not being in school anymore is that we get to learn in our own ways, not with some predetermined syllabus.
Whatever you do for a living, whatever you enjoy outside of work, no matter your age, learning inspires us all. There’s no greater fuel to propel you into the future than education.