As human beings, we have a built-in desire to learn and expand our knowledge to grow and develop. The type of learning can be different between people. Some people love to hear about what other people are doing—the gossips— others love reading books about nature and some enjoy reading the news. We all have it and it is built in.
Like all learning, some of the knowledge gained is useful and some less useful. Gossiping and commenting on the latest news is not going to develop you very much as a person, and in all likelihood is going to make you angry, sad or happy, depending on your viewpoint.
While other knowledge, such as learning a new skill or a new language, can help you to grow intellectually and give you skills that can lead to better career prospects and an increase in your income.
The difficulty for many people is finding the learning motivation after we have finished our formal education. For example, I did not enjoy learning languages when I was at school. Now, many years after I left school, I find it hard to motivate myself to learn the language of the country I find myself living in, even though to do so would greatly improve my income growth potential and enable me to make new friends.
We are living in rapidly changing times. The work we do today is at risk of being replaced by automation and AI. If we want to continue to grow and develop, we need to make sure we are learning new skills faster than automation, and AI can keep up.
So, here are a number of ways that can help motivate you to continue to learn after you have graduated from school.
1. You Get to Choose What You Learn
When we were at school, we had little choice about what we learned. We all learned to the same thing.
In my case, the basic subjects were maths, languages (English, Latin and French) and science. It did not matter that I hated maths, I still had to learn it.
Today, I can choose what I want to learn. That makes learning new things a lot of fun. Over the last twelve months, I have learned about neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), social media marketing and meditation. All of these subjects have been fascinating and have been enjoyable to learn.
2. Remind Yourself of the Outcome
One of the things I have chosen to learn this year is Korean. I live in Korea and do have what I describe as ‘survival Korean’, but I wanted to take my ability to communicate in Korean to fluency.
I do not enjoy learning languages, largely because it is a slow process. So on the days I am not ‘in the mood’ to learn, I remind myself of why I am learning it.
I visualize being able to walk into a shop or restaurant and having a full conversation with the staff. Or riding in a taxi and discussing the latest news with the driver. Doing this very quickly gets me back ‘in the mood’ and I am soon learning more verbs, nouns and conjugations.
3. Make Your “Why” for Learning Emotionally Strong
Learning something new so you can win an argument in your office is not likely to be a strong reason to learn something new. Sure, that brief moment of victory may give some satisfaction but it will not last.
But if your reason for learning is so you develop a new skill that will make your work better or more efficient, you are always going to have a strong incentive to continue learning.
Before beginning a new learning project, think about why you want to learn that particular subject and make sure the reason why is strong and connected to some form of emotional need.
When your reasons are connected to an emotion such as happiness, love or fulfilment, you are always going to find the motivation to sit down and learn