Continuous learning is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your career. When you stop learning, you stop growing. If you don’t make time for it then it won’t happen. I would recommend that you try to include one to two hours of self-growth activities a week.
So many companies these days find continuous learning to be a key to success and incredibly important and have begun to provide funding and scholarships for those that are interested. If there is something that you want to learn more about and think it would be valuable to your career growth, reach out to your HR department and ask if it’s something they would be willing to pay for. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no.
If you don’t have time to get a degree, there are so many resources out there. Even if you have a job that you plan to stay at for years to come it’s a good idea to learn new things. If your position is pretty turn key and there isn’t much room to grow then learn about something else that interests you. You can never learn too much. Knowing a little bit about a lot of things makes you interesting, it makes it easier to hold a conversation. Knowing a lot about one thing makes you an expert. Either way, it makes you better.
There are so many ways to grow without having to pay an arm and a leg:
- Read everything you can get your hands on. Ask your co-workers for recommendations on books they loved. At one of my jobs, we created a learning library, and everyone would try to read a book a quarter and bring them in and add them to the collection. We also tried to share out things that we learned from our books with our colleagues. If you have a long commute, I recommend audiobooks. I felt really strange listening to them at first and now I am hooked. I get so bored with the morning radio talk shows and love knowing that I’m using my drive time to my advantage.
- Reach out to people that are working in the same field as you and shadow them. You should also try to shadow someone in the position you want to be in, not just the same position as you. Always try to learn from the people who have done your job before and been successful. Set up a time to meet with them every quarter. Buy them a cup of coffee and a donut and ask them questions.
- Set up a “learning phone date” with a mentor. Everyone gets busy but having someone to talk through your thoughts and problems with that gets what you do in your career that can provide sound advice can help you make the best decisions possible and not feel alone.
- Watch webinars. Find out if your company has partnerships with any trade organizations. Most of the time they can get you into conferences for free or a reduced price.
- Go to trade shows. Some companies will pay for you to attend these events as they usually have a lecture component built right in.
- Google it. You have all kinds of knowledge at your finger tips (just make sure you are looking for educated sources).
- If you work for a company tap into any and all resources. Reach out to your training department, boss, or HR, and see what opportunities are available.
Go back to school. I often hear people say that they don’t have time to get their master’s or Doctorate. That’s fine. Who said you must get a degree if you go back to school? What is every time you felt like you weren’t educated enough about a topic you took a class? Just one. Once class on something you might like to know more about. Something that would make you feel more empowered if you understood it a little better. Something that would help you make better decisions if you knew more about it. Normally, a collegiate level course is a few hundred bucks and you most community colleges have classes that cover all kinds of topics. You might want to reach out to local colleges and universities and see if you can just audit the class – meaning sitting in to learn but not taking tests or getting any credit.
There are so many ways to keep learning, you just have to pick which one you want to start with and go for it.