During my adult life, I’ve tried to learn or at least expose myself to one new skill or programming language every year. For example, over the past year or so I’ve been studying, dabbling, or trying out the following: game development using Unity, technical analysis of stocks, Spanish, driving a car, and even some simple cooking! I’ve also been regularly practicing to improve my skills in writing and sketching. I probably even forgot a few things I’ve tried to learn. I also have a backlog of programming languages and frameworks I’ve been wanting to learn and/or try out.
There can be a tendency for some people, especially those tired of formal education, to fall into the trap of thinking that once they become adults they no longer need to learn new things or improve their skills, but an attitude towards continuous learning and improvement pushes us towards more fulfilling lives.
There are even certain professions such as software development or medicine where you pretty much have to keep up with the latest trends or new technologies in order to maintain your skill set. But even outside of such professions, a lifetime of learning can be enriching.
That’s literally too. Learning and exposing yourself to new things is a process of growth and discovery that can lead you to better career options and be more financially rewarding. Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) gave some advice that you can make yourself more valuable by combining two or more skills. The more skills you learn, the more likely you are to find a combination of skills that gives you the edge towards financial success.
At work, I’ve always been happy to take on tasks that required me to learn new frameworks or programming languages. Without an attitude towards continuous learning, your skills will stagnate. You’ll be working on the same sort of tasks again and again, leading to boredom and unhappiness.
Apart from the possible financial rewards, continuous learning has a few other soft benefits. It keeps you mentally sharp and healthy even as you grow older. It can help you meet new people. It can give you new conversation topics with your friends. It builds your confidence and leads to trying even more new things. It helps you look at things and situations with fresh eyes or different angles. And it means you’re almost never bored!
If you have kids, it sets an example for them that learning is a good thing and definitely you should be trying to instill the same example in them. Encourage their curiosity and facilitate their learning whenever they show interest in something, especially outside of school, to reinforce the idea that learning isn’t something that can only happen in the classroom.
It can be exhausting sometimes to be trying to keep up with everything and learn new things all the time, but you owe it to yourself (and perhaps even to the world!) to continuously try to be a better person.