The Challenge and Reward of Learning New Things

July 2017

Photo: Thinkstock

Things I learned in the last 30 days:

  • Kundalini yoga
  • Rhumba
  • Foxtrot
  • Waltz (not a fan)
  • East Coast swing and West Coast swing
  • How to make a PowerPoint shine
  • How to be a successful webinar presenter
  • How to use perforated tabs at both ends of the packaging that contain a roll of plastic wrap for covering food. (When the tabs are pushed in, they hold the roll in place. Belated kudos to the package designer!)

Some of these new learning experiences were major and some were quite trivial, but all were a revelation and opportunity for both personal and professional growth.

I would not consider any of these discoveries mastered, and they never will be (well…except the perforated tabs function). I always believe there is more to learn—in my profession as a graphic designer and in my role as a managing partner of a content marketing company. For me, a creative approach to challenges presents endless possibilities for solutions that need to be explored, so acquiring knowledge is never-ending.

Everyone innately wants to learn. As adult learners, we may willfully put ourselves in a learning mode, or be thrust into one. In either case, adaptation is required for change to occur. People’s willingness to change covers a vast spectrum from full-out resisters to those that jump in blindly to new experiences.

Studying new things is not always easy and, depending upon difficulty, the learning curve can seem more like an upward climb on the jagged mountain of new knowledge. Tougher tasks will require an “I can do this” attitude—the ever-popular grit. But the difficulty you may have in learning a new task will help you remember it.

At year’s end, people often reflect on their accomplishments. Many believe they fall short because their list lacks monumental achievements. In our business, we take a look back at each quarter’s objectives and then set new, small goals for the next three months…in addition to ongoing larger annual goals—all in an effort to maintain momentum and progress.

It’s important to identify and acknowledge your growth and assess where you can improve. Here’s some tips to ease you into learning new things:

  • Set goals to learn something new and create a timeline to accomplish them.
  • Understand your learning style and use it.
  • Eliminate distractions and be fully engaged in the process of learning.
  • Learn with a partner or a group.
  • Reinforce what you’ve learned by applying it—even for 10 minutes a day.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others…stay on your own learning path.
  • Persist!

The more you learn, the more practiced you’ll be at the experience of gaining new knowledge. I bet if you took a step back and listed all of the new skills you learned over the past month, you too would compose a lengthy list demonstrating progress. The reward for meeting the challenge for learning new things is your growth, increased confidence and marketability.

—Maureen

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