Finding Time to Be a Lifelong Learner

"I just need extra time to implement that email organizing process you taught me."

"When I have the time, I'll use that delegation process you shared with us."

"Next week, when things are a little less busy, I'll get to process and study those materials you sent."

I could keep going...on and on. But, I won't.

These are direct quotes from three of our GET MOMENTUM members during our monthly Leader Development Coaching Calls. It seems that people think "TIME" is the problem. During the first three (of 6-8) sessions we set an intention for the coaching process, identify a direction, and agree to a new reality that we'll work together to achieve.

You'll Never Have More Time Than You Do Right Now

Look we've got news (it's not good, not bad, just news) for you. You have 1,440 minutes in a day. You get 168 hours in a week. Moreover, MOST of you will be paid to work your 50 (or more) weeks over the next year.

Here's the reality: next week, next month, even next year, you're going to have LESS time for things than you do right now. Work/Life balance? There is no such fairy-tale land. Instead, you're living in the world of unbalanced give-and-take. You give some of your focus over here, and you take some of their attention over there.

So, how do you "find" time? You don't. You pick, you choose, you "discern." (Is that even a verb? Jodi keeps using it as we review our project list every week and our outcomes list once a month...")

Do you think you need more time? You may have bought into that saying. However, is it true?

Not really. So it's our job to bring you insights you can use to get more done, stress less, and feel better at the end of every day. Instead of hoping you have more time later, you need to:

  1. Decide what it is you want to learn.
  2. Commit to focusing on an outcome...what precisely will you gain?
  3. Put yourself in a position to learn it.
  4. Work with a mentor/coach/teacher once or twice a month.
  5. Celebrate your progress REGULARLY.

That's it. Five not-so-simple (but doable) steps that will pay off in HUGE dividends over the next year or so. Are you ready to get started?

Though your learning skills may be a bit rusty, you can always oil up your gears and start learning today. Only change your thoughts to “I look for things to learn.” You see, we teach that practice doesn't automatically make perfect, but it DOES make things easier. Practice learning (on the small stuff) and there will be a natural carryover to other things (that are bigger!).

Ensuring a lifetime of learning requires that learning opportunities are ever present. It also requires that you shift your perspective.

How? One way is to accept that learning is not relegated to formal learning institutions, or merely the pursuit of a degree. Knowledge is available to all of us, all of the time if we open ourselves up to it. From hobby classes, reading and playing games, to outdoor activities and socializing, learning takes many forms. Do you take time to exercise your physical body? Do you make sure you eat regularly? Of course, and you do these things because you recognize your responsibility to your health and well being. It’s the same with lifelong learning: when you accept responsibility for your intellectual self, your ability to learn will grow, propelling you even further.

QUICK TIPS: How to Become a Lifelong Learner

  • Decide you are a “Learner” first
  • Make your attitude one of “I can, I will, I do”
  • Recognize that learning opportunities are everywhere
  • Believe that it’s never too late for learning
  • View life’s obstacles as opportunities to learn
  • Teach or mentor someone else

Three Steps to Becoming a Lifelong Learner

1. Once you’ve made learning a priority, decide on one SPECIFIC learning goal for the next month.

Plot a learning path and make a plan to achieve that goal. Maybe you want to learn to a new language, a musical instrument or how to use Photoshop. Figure out how you would go about teaching yourself these skills and then make your plan for achieving it.

When we founded the GET MOMENTUM Leadership Academy in 2012, we identified (with the help of our longer-standing clients) the 12 Self-Leadership and Personal-Productivity skills managers, leaders, and professionals wanted to be better at year over year. Then, we created a learning and implementation plan they could follow.

2. Make a contract with yourself—it may sound silly, but your signature is a powerful tool.

Identify what you want to know. Write down how your life AND work will be better when you learn that thing. Then, write a mission or vision statement; this is a one or two sentence a promise to yourself. Print it out (in big font), and put a date by which you're going to achieve learning that thing. Then, sign it with a thick Sharpie pen! Putting your signature on your contract, even if that contract is with yourself, signifies your intent and commitment to yourself, your goals and to lifelong learning.

3. Get reacquainted with play.

Play is an essential part of learning. Just watch a child as he discovers and devours his world at unbridled speed, soaking up everything around him. Education is about feeding your curiosity and your sense of well-being – play is an integral part of that. Practicing an instrument, acting, playing a game – these are all learning, disguised as play.

Don't wait until you have the time you think you need before you start learning. Get started by picking a direction to go in, a destination to arrive at, and a proven, successful process to follow to achieve your goals. Your future self will thank you, we promise!