10 Keys To Designing A Personal Lifelong Learning Process
A Lifelong Learning Plan is a conscious, continuous
engagement in acquiring, assimilating and applying knowledge
and skills in the context of authentic, self-directed growth
and challenge. It is rare for individuals to take this
initiative. Most people operate on a "what they need now"
plan and typically attend educational institutions for their
Lifelong Learning is a philosophy of approaching learning as
an integral, inseparable part of our life?s activities. Here
are ten guidelines to help you formulate your own
personalized Lifelong Learning Process.
1. Commit to approach learning as a lifelong journey.
Choose to keep it alive throughout your lifetime. You don't
need to attend formal educational institutions for this
process. In fact, you can learn more in small, consistent
spurts than you can in a classroom, if you set up your plan
2. Maximize your resources. With lifelong learning, there
isn't a structure like you had in school, so it?s easy to
ignore and procrastinate. If you allow this, eventually the
"you snooze, you lose" theory will catch up with you. A
prime example is how changes in the national economy have
hit the IT industry these last few years. The companies
that priorize learning are still in the game, whereas their
competitors who focused on "what we need now" are out of
business. Create a system and plan that works and can last a
lifetime. Keep learning journals for each topic.
3. Maximize your environments. Identify and create
settings that support and inspire you both inside and
outside your home. How does the library spark your
learning? How about the mall, the park, or even McDonalds!
Explore different environments and label each one (e.g.,
"inspiring," "relaxing," "great for concentration.") What
supplies help you keeping your energy up? Do you need quiet
for some learning and busy environments for others?
4. Know how you learn. To learn effectively, know how you
learn. How do you take in information, process, and retain
it? There isn't one best way. Tie everything into a
learning purpose and vision. When and how often does your
mind need a break? Do you have reading spurts? How do you
retain the information -- by reading aloud, notes,
summarizing in memory, or sharing with others?
5. Tap into the power of your mind. Your mind?s power is
evident in everything you do. Analytical, critical and
creative thinking enables the mind to process, store, and
create all the facts and ideas it encounters. By practicing
different types and ways of thinking, you keep your mind
strong and flexible. Consider it "going to the gym" for
your mind! (Talking about how the mind works is the subject
of a huge tome, not a Top 10!)
6. Harness the power of words and ideas. Words, when
joined, form ideas, and are tools with enormous energy.
Whether writing a memo, letter, e-mail, article, or journal
entry, make each an opportunity to fulfill a learning goal.
Each is a chance to work toward improving and using words to
construct understandable ideas. Learn to express ideas in
writing. This will evolve into clearer thinking. Keep an
idea journal by theme or topic.
7. Absorb, retain, and demonstrate knowledge. What do you
do with the facts, opinions, and stories that you accumulate
daily? Listening helps absorption and memory skills, which
enables retention. Listen to a teleclass or book on tape,
then write your own version and master what you learned by
moving it into the long-term memory. Listening can be compared
to using a camera. First, you view the image and focus
(listening). Next, you snap the picture (remembering).
Finally, you print the image (demonstrate knowledge).
Mastering knowledge means being able to apply it in other
8. Value diversity. The greater part of our day involves
interacting with others. Experiencing other people?s
communication styles, learning methods, and the roles played
in groups and teams help us to grow, prosper, open our
minds and develop new perceptions. Dealing with conflict,
criticism, and any points of vulnerability strengthens our
ability to use any situation as an opportunity to learn.
9. Take exceptionally good care of yourself. Physical and
mental health affects learning. Examine these aspects and
set up contingencies within your plan to identify and work
through all health challenges as soon as they appear.
10. Map your course. Maximize time, energy and focus by
defining a yearly learning theme. Subdivide into monthly
topics with time commitments. (Example: Ten years ago, I
defined a learning goal of three new computer steps in no
more than 15-minutes per day. It has compounded and saved
time and money ever since.) Minimize distractions by
learning to "table the other topics." Create a "next year"
folder to contain those great ideas and set up a review
month of tabled topics to decide how to use them in the
About the Author: Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing &
Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internet
writing and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters
and articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.com