Lifelong learning isn’t just about making money. While that’s a wonderful byproduct, there are plenty of other benefits lifelong learners gain from a life steeped in continuous professional growth and development.
Here are the top five most powerful advantages lifelong learners experience that can help them apply their gained knowledge and achieve success.
1. A fixed mindset is replaced with a growth mindset.
When it comes to personal growth, there are two types of mindsets. In a fixed mindset, people believe their intellectual assets are static and embedded traits that cannot be changed. People who operate with this mindset do not proactively work to develop knowledge or acquire new skills. They typically attribute success to inherent talent alone, believing that effort is not required or useful.
On the contrary, a growth mindset functions on the core belief that skills and intelligence can be nurtured with time, dedication and experience. When people believe they can become more intellectually valuable, they’re willing to invest abundant time, effort and energy into personal improvement endeavors. By adopting a growth mindset, lifelong learners are compelled to reach higher and achieve more.
2. Stress levels are reduced.
Very often I see clients at a stressful point in their life, whether they are in the middle of their graduate education, approaching their first job or embarking on a career change. Clearing the mental clutter of stress can help people live in the present, practice self-care, embrace passions and master to-do lists.
Lifelong learning is a great remedy for managing the physical and emotional symptoms of stress. Research from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex suggests that reading up on a new subject for just six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by as much as 68%. I’ve also found that lifelong learners systematically carve out time to prioritize their schedule and make ample time for activities that serve their personal and professional development.
3. Confidence & self-esteem are boosted.
Self-confidence can be influenced by two factors: the level of trust in yourself and how competent you feel in the task at hand. Lifelong learners amplify both trust and competence by constantly immersing themselves in new challenges. With these challenges come successes and failures. Success, of course, immediately builds confidence, but so can failures as they provide valuable lessons and experiences. As a result, confident people become less risk averse and better adaptable when confronted with change.
4. Challenges become opportunities for creative problem-solving.
Propelled by technology, the world is in a state of rapid, constant change. In an Adobe-commissioned global Creative Problem-Solving Study, 97% of educators reported that creative problem-solving is important for students to learn in school. Meanwhile, 75% agreed that professions requiring problem-solving skills are less likely to be impacted by automation. So if there’s anything that’s not changing in the digital age, it’s the need for problem-solvers.
Problem-solving translates well on the work front. Lifelong learners are constantly placing themselves in situations where they must identify a problem, design a fitting solution, put it to use and measure the results. They adopt an inquisitive, curious, open-minded approach to problem-solving and perceive business challenges as opportunities rather than setbacks.
5. Fears are embraced & action is taken.
Lifelong learners create a fear-facing routine which helps them overcome doubt and anxiety. They take incremental bold steps to try something new and expand out of their comfort zone.
Notably, lifelong learning isn’t just about the technical material you absorb. Rather, it is about acting on and applying what you learn. For instance, some people invest a great deal of time and energy going to seminars, studying and learning. But then they never actually take any action or apply what they learn. The growth mindset is there, but it is stunted. In order to have a growth mindset that truly flourishes—and to feel all the positive effects in your personal and professional life—you need to take action on what you learned.
Taking action is the last phase of the lifelong-learning cycle, but it is the most important. If you take no action, it doesn’t matter how much you learn or know—your actual life is not going to benefit in any way.
Start small, think big
I often observe bourgeoning lifelong learners taking small strides at first. In working with clients, I challenge them to think about informal education opportunities that appeal to their passions but also take them out of their comfort zone. For example, one client who struggled with public speaking took an improvisational theatre class and I noticed remarkable progress in their confidence and attitude.
While results can start out small, lifelong learning can eventually evolve to help people achieve their biggest dreams, give back and solve problems that make the world a better place. After all, fortune favors the bold.