10 ways to be a lifelong learner and make it count at your job

by Lama Ataya, May 23, 2013

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write; but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn,” said writer Alvin Toffler. Are you committed to lifelong learning? Here Bayt.com offers a few tips for getting on the journey towards building new skills and interests that may even help you in the workplace:

1. Read tons of books related to your career.

77.9% of respondents to a Bayt.com poll indicated they read constantly and 69.6% indicated they believe reading is vital to career progress. Dive in to some business classics or titles very specific to your chosen field; consult book reviews and industry journals and always aim to stay ahead of the curve in your career reading.

2. Develop new interests in non-job related areas.

You may be surprised at the value you can derive from being well-rounded or becoming an expert in something you are passionate about, even if it seems unrelated to your career. Many skills are transferable; you’re likely to find some way to incorporate this learning into your job at some point. Take up a new language, or even cooking lessons. Even if you can’t apply it to your work, following new interests will help you become a much more passionate, and interesting, professional.

3. Write about what you learn, or at least take notes and jot down ideas.

Share your learning through a blog or by writing articles or summary notes if you feel comfortable.  If you’re not comfortable sharing, keep notes for yourself. Active reading involves jotting ideas, taking notes and a higher level of participation; plus these notes and ideas may come in very handy later on.

4. Take new courses and attend lectures/seminars/conferences whenever you can.

Sometimes it’s great to get out and listen to an expert’s perspective and join in stimulating classroom discourse or debate. If you can’t physically attend courses, you could even try an online courses. A recent Bayt.com online education poll showed that 39.3% professionals in the Arab world say they would consider pursuing an online course if given a chance.

5. Join online and offline groups related to your interests.

By joining a group you will fuel your interests, challenge and reinforce your learning, and have the opportunity to ask questions and test answers. It can be a general book club you join or a group specific to your area of interest, like an Engineering Society, sewing circle, stargazers club, accounting forum, etc. Whatever kind of group you choose, this is a great way to supplement your learning.

6. Teach someone.

Teaching is often the best way to learn; we learn from our students’ burning questions and from preparing to deliver lessons. If you don’t have a student or mentee, perhaps you can organize a sort of learning circle for people with similar interests who rotate teaching on different topics each week.

7. Always ask questions.

Don’t just be a passive learner, push yourself to ask and answer questions; participate in discussions and aim to understand best practices. Always strive to learn more, push concepts and assumptions, and take advantage of experts and tools around you by pulling all of the knowledge you can out of them.

8. Don’t be shy to implement, practice and experiment with your learning.

Don’t be afraid to try out you’re a new technique or skillset in public; next time you’re at a French or Chinese restaurant downtown, don’t hesitate to place the order with your newly learned French or Chinese skills. Practice will make yours skills more useful and may help you find ways to integrate new learning into the workplace.

9. Find a mentor in your field of interest.

A coach can be an invaluable resource and a sounding board for new ideas or questions you may have in your field. Pick someone who has sufficient quality time for you, who shares your interests, and whose opinions and ideas you really respect and value. Pick their brain and get as much knowledge and expertise from them as you can.

10. Set milestones along the journey.

Learning is a lifelong journey. To make the adventure more meaningful, test your new skills and tie success to rewards. Whether you choose to take a holiday in a place that speaks the new language you’re learning or implement a new project or process at work that uses a new skillset, make sure you are regularly assessing your newfound knowledge and always keep learning.

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Lama heads the Marketing Department at Bayt.com and within that role is also responsible for Content, Community Experience, CSR and Corporate Communications across the MENA region. Lama has held varied roles in leading global financial services institutions in London, New York and Kuwait and just prior to Bayt.com was a Marketing VP, at a leading global asset management institution in London. Lama has a BA/MA from Stanford University.

 
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Gail Monique Mallo , Sun 26.05.2013
I believe in this, which is why I don't close my doors to learning. It's a never ending process and to continue to grow professionally and personally, you have to be open to learning.