Lifelong Learning: Significance, Benefits and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One way to improve your employability and career prospects is to invest in your professional development. You can develop yourself professionally through a variety of channels, such as on-the-job training, formal education and self-education. Understanding the importance of investing in yourself throughout your work life can enhance your ability to achieve career and personal objectives. In this article, we define what lifelong learning is, discuss its significance, outline its benefits and offer some examples.

What is lifelong learning?

Lifelong learning refers to voluntary self-education aimed at personal fulfilment. Continuous learning in this way often involves informal learning, but can also involve formal education. Learning that's lifelong can be about anything that interests you. It can be about your career, hobbies or general interests, so long as it's self-initiated. You can achieve lifelong education by:

  • studying through books, audio and video courses

  • taking online courses

  • attending in-person classes

Significance of becoming a lifelong learner

Becoming a lifelong learner is important for several reasons. The activity is a recognition of the human requirement for mental stimulation and growth. As a lifelong learner, you have an inherent passion to learn and explore new subjects and develop yourself personally and professionally.

Dedicating yourself to learning throughout your life can also improve your quality of life, provide personal fulfilment, increase your self-worth and help you stay current with new ideas, trends and technologies. These activities not only improve your mental alertness, but can also broaden your worldview and enrich your personal and professional experiences, making you a well-rounded individual at social and industry events.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Self-Improvement (With Tips)

Benefits of becoming a lifelong learner

Here are some benefits of becoming a lifelong learner:

Provide self-motivation

Becoming a lifelong learner can renew your self-motivation and ability to strive to improve yourself. After spending many years in a career or position, individuals may feel stagnant. Aspiring to learn new things related to your industry, professional development or personal interests can help you regain your motivation to achieve higher goals and set bigger ambitions for yourself.

Related: How to Self-Motivate at Work (With Steps and Tips)

Identify personal goals and interests

Self-education as a lifelong learner can help you develop new interests and set higher goals for yourself. An activity that starts as an interest may lead to a new career path and professional fulfilment after a few years. For example, you might want to learn more about electric propulsion systems as a mechanical engineer. After reading some books and following authoritative blogs about the subject, you might decide to take a professional course or an advanced degree in the field. Over time, the new credential may qualify you for a better-paid job in a larger company.

Related: 8 Steps for Using Self-Learning to Improve Your Skills

Improve personal and professional skills

One primary reason people become lifelong learners is to acquire new personal and professional skills. When you've gained sufficient skills in the trade, you may be able to handle small domestic repairs.

People also self-educate to improve their performance at work. For example, you can set a goal to become a better presenter or gain proficiency in using a proprietary software tool. Learning a new skill can improve your output at work and make you a more valuable team member while also enhancing your job satisfaction.

Boost self-confidence

Investing in continuous learning, whether personally or professionally, can boost your self-confidence. For example, having in-demand skills can make you trust in your ability to deliver results at work. Improved self-confidence not only enhances your ability to apply your skills and solve problems, but it can also qualify you for leadership positions and help you influence people positively.

Related: How to Be More Confident at Work (With Definition and Tips)

Enhance employability

Becoming a lifelong learner may make you more attractive to employers. This is because such people invest in their professional development and usually have in-demand skills employers look for in talented candidates. Using continuous learning to increase your skill set and highlighting your role-relevant qualifications in your job application documents can give you an advantage over less-qualified candidates.

Improve career progression

Becoming a lifelong learner can help you advance in your career. Taking relevant courses in your field can improve your skills and enhance your efficiency at work. The improved results you can deliver for your employer may qualify you for bonuses, promotions and leadership positions.

Key characteristics of learning that's lifelong

Lifelong education often has these attributes:

  • Voluntary: Learning that's lifelong is often voluntary. It doesn't require the prompting of a third party such as an employer, friend or relative.

  • Self-motivated: Lifelong learners typically initiate their self-education. This makes them highly self-motivated to improve themselves personally and professionally.

  • Informal: Many lifelong learners use informal means of education to improve themselves. They can take online courses, read books, attend private classes or take professional courses.

  • Cost: Many forms of lifelong education don't involve substantial material cost since people use informal means to achieve them. Unlike traditional degrees, online courses, books and self-learning are relatively cheap or even free.

  • Motivation: Lifelong learners derive motivation from their personal interests or professional development. The subject can relate to a person's hobbies, interests or work.

Examples of lifelong education

If you're new to the idea of lifelong study, here are some ways you can start your own journey:

Learning new technology

Learning how to use new technology is common since people are required to learn about the functions, features and uses of new technological products they buy. If you haven't yet explored all the features of your cell phone, you could find courses or books that can help you learn how to maximise its functions. You could also learn more about the software on your computer, whether it's your spreadsheet or word processing application or the software you use to balance your chequebook.

Learning a new skill

Learning a new skill is another lifelong activity people do in their private and professional lives. The skills can be related to hobbies, such as learning how to scuba dive or interests in your work, such as becoming proficient in making 3D models with computer-aided design software. Perhaps you've always wanted to learn a musical instrument, create web pages, draw or make crafts out of wood.

Related: 19 Useful Skills to Learn for Your Professional Development

Taking a course

As a lifelong learner, you can take a course as a self-education activity. For example, you could check the universities around you for classes you could take on subjects in which you're interested. You may also find classes online, some of which may be free of charge.

Teaching yourself a new discipline

If you're a lifelong learner, you may be interested in learning about a new discipline. Whether it's a foreign language, a branch of mathematics, history or some other subject, there are plenty of resources you can use to help you learn. These include online videos, podcasts and books.

Taking up a new activity

Besides careers, lifelong learners also dedicate themselves to learning new activities, often related to a new hobby. You might prefer to learn a sport such as skiing or soccer or perhaps you want to master a martial art or yoga. Check out places in your community that offer lessons and opportunities to practise with others.

Habits of lifelong learners

You may already be a lifelong learner. If you aren't, it's never too late to start. Here are some habits of lifelong learners you can incorporate into your daily schedule.

Reading

Reading is an important part of a lifelong learner's daily routine. Through reading, you have access to ideas that may challenge the way you think or the way you understand a subject. You can also explore different cultures or teach yourself a new skill. With the Internet, a vast number of books and learning resources are available to you.

Travelling

Visiting different cultures is a great way to grow and cultivate a curious mind. This is why lifelong learners often take the opportunity to travel when they can. It can be both humbling and challenging to spend time with people who live and speak differently from you. Travelling can also give you a new perspective on the world and your place in it.

Being open to change

Lifelong learners often look at change as something positive, whether it's a change you make or a change that's imposed upon you. This is because change can be challenging, causing you to adapt to new circumstances. Mental challenges like this enable you to grow as you solve problems, learn new skills and encounter people with different ideas.

Related: Career Advancement Strategies (With Steps and Tips)

Having a variety of interests

Many people have a hobby they enjoy that's unrelated to their daily job. If you're a lifelong learner, having a variety of interests outside of work helps you adapt to different tasks. It also enables you to pursue things you enjoy doing, which is good for your stress level and work-life balance.

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