Of course you’re at UW to learn. But how much of your focus on learning is because you have to and how much is because you want to? The latter approach is called lifelong learning. While it is unrealistic to adopt this at every moment, there are benefits to practicing - even after you graduate - this mindset. Lifelong learners are motivated to learn and develop because they want to: it is a deliberate and voluntary act. Lifelong learning can enhance your understanding of the world around you, provide you with more and better opportunities and improve your quality of life.
There are two main reasons for learning throughout life: for personal development and for professional development. These reasons may not necessarily be distinct as personal development can improve your employment opportunities and professional development can enable personal growth.
Benefits of lifelong learning for personal development
Learning for its own sake brings advantages:
- Boosts your confidence and self-esteem
- Makes you less risk averse and more adaptable to change when it happens
- Helps you achieve a more satisfying personal life
- Challenges your ideas and beliefs
- Can be fun
Benefits of lifelong learning for professional development
Your capacity to earn is directly related to your willingness to learn. Employers are looking for well-balanced people with transferable skills. These are skills and abilities that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life: socially, professionally and at school. They are ‘portable skills’. Taking a lifelong learning approach pays off for your professional self:
- You can get more personal satisfaction from your life and from the jobs you choose as you understand more about who you are and what you do. This can lead to better results and a more rewarding working situation.
- From a financial point of view, a more highly skilled and knowledgeable worker is an asset to any company and can lead to faster promotion with associated salary increases.
- Someone who can offer more expertise will be of more value not just to employers but also to customers. Expertise is also, often, a key quality of an effective leader. It is easy to get caught up in lectures, papers, and exams but taking some time to think about learning -- now and for your lifetime -- can pay off.