You used to be able to get a degree in a field, and wave then goodbye to formal education. Well, learn the importance of saying hello to lifelong learning.
- Because what we do for work and how we learn are inextricably linked we're gonna shift now from the new worlds of work to the new worlds of learning. Remember that our industrial era model of education, that's designed to manufacture learners on a mass scale, is no longer up to the task of preparing young people for adult life in a time of rapid change. Instead, we need a completely new model of learning that lasts throughout our entire lives, and helps us to continually adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Now perhaps the best and earliest overview of lifelong learning was in a book called The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them by Dick Bolles, who also wrote What Color Is Your Parachute? The enduring career manual. In Three Boxes, Dick Bolles said that we have three major components of our lives. A big chunk of learning at the beginning, then a big chunk of work, then finally a big chunk of leisure in what I call the period formerly known as retirement. He advocated the need to completely change that model of education from a single box at the beginning of our lives to a model of continuous self-education.
So that's rule number one of the new rules of learning. You must become a lifelong learner. As adults, we accept the work world that will constantly change. So our knowledge of the world has to continually change as well. We must think of ourselves as lifelong learners, and we have to become adept at navigating our individual paths to work opportunities. That's probably an uncomfortable reality for many, especially for those who grew up working in long-term jobs or fields.
But if you are going to thrive in disruptive times, you need to think and act completely differently. So let's take a look at a few strategies. First, you need to continually have learning goals. Each of us has to continually develop a set of topics that fascinates us. The shelf life of knowledge is becoming shorter and shorter so we need to set those goals for ourselves on the kinds of knowledges that we want to grow, and the kinds of experiences we wanna develop. Next, it's really critical to do an annual self-inventory.
Because we're constantly growing and gaining new experiences we have to understand what makes each of us unique, what makes us tick on an ongoing basis. We have annual health check-ups with a doctor. We also need annual life design check-ups. When we assess how our work matches up with our capabilities and goals. This also guides the choices we make about our future work, and what we'll need to learn and want to learn to help us get there.
Finally, you need to develop transferable and self-management skills in addition to your knowledges. So much of formalized learning is about developing those knowledges, but we also have to look for learning opportunities that emphasize developing the skills that are transferrable and that we use to manage ourselves. In the digital era, where so much information is available online, those transferable skills are what will allow us to continually adapt. Look, I understand that lifelong learning probably sounds a little exhausting.
Doesn't it stop at some point? Sure, depending on the kind of work you choose, you could find a field or work that changes more slowly than others. But I have to emphasize that lifelong learning isn't a chore, it's an opportunity. There are so many exciting opportunities to learn in so many different arenas. It shouldn't be an issue of trying to find something that excites you, the challenge really should be trying to choose between all the different things that you wish that you could learn.
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- Why there are new rules of work, learning, and life
- Thinking like an entrepreneur
- Building your network
- Doing work driven by meaning
- Understanding the new rules of learning
- Becoming a lifelong learner
- Planning for leisure like you plan for work and learning
- Making time to give back
- What to do when the rules change again