The Joy and Challenge of Continuous Learning
I vividly remember the excitement I felt as a bright-eyed kindergartener, eager to soak up new knowledge like a little sponge. At the wise old age of five, I thought I knew everything. But looking back now (at the very mature age of 30!), I chuckle thinking how much I’ve grown and changed—and how much I still have yet to learn.
As we get older, it’s easy to feel like we should have things figured out. I’ve certainly fallen into that trap. After graduating college, I thought I was set professionally. 10 years later, entire new fields exist that I couldn’t have even imagined back then! The world is changing so rapidly, with innovations happening faster than ever. To stay relevant—and honestly, interested—committing to continuous learning is key.
Easier said than done, I know! Between work, family, and the million and one other responsibilities we adults face, finding time to learn something new can feel next to impossible some days. I totally get it. But making even small efforts at keeping our brains nimble truly pays off.
For me, taking quick coffee break courses on new work skills has been super helpful for staying sharp career-wise. Thanks to bitesize online classes, I can level up my abilities in my spare moments rather than carving out huge chunks of time for lengthy certification programs. These refreshers keep me feeling energized and engaged with new challenges, rather than stuck in a professional rut doing the same old routines year after year.
I’ve also realized just how fun it can be to pick up new personal hobbies and creative outlets on the side. Pre-pandemic, I was convinced I had no artistic bone in my body. But with all that extra time at home recently, I decided hey, why not give watercolor painting a try? I fully expected to be horrible at first (and I was!). But watching a few YouTube tutorials helped me improve little by little. Seeing those small wins motivated me to keep building those skills for myself, not for any career goal or badge of honor. Now painting is something I do simply because it brings me joy. And it keeps my brain active in ways my analytical day job does not.
Learning is a lifelong endeavor we get to mold and customize based on our evolving interests. As many great teachers have said, once you stop learning, you stop truly living. This year, I encourage you to rediscover the delight of a curious beginner’s mindset. Commit to growth for growth’s sake. Dabble in new hobbies that excite you, take quick-hit professional development courses, or finally sign up for that wine and painting night you’ve been curious about. See where new adventures take you when you make learning a lifelong journey rather than a checkbox to complete. You just might surprise yourself. I know I will!