We all want to do better and accomplish many things in life — it is part of our natural human drive. The only way we can push ourselves to do better, accomplish more in life and make the changes we desire is to keep on learning.
But sometimes we come up against a roadblock: how do we know what to learn and what should we prioritize when we’ve already decided what to learn? In my experience, I’ve faced this roadblock constantly. I want to learn and I want to become better but sometimes I just don’t know where to begin.
Here are 5 steps to begin your learning quest and help you prioritize what to learn so you can accomplish more.
First, decide what you want to learn and set a goal. For example, you might want to venture into data analysis, understand the workings of digital marketing, or learn a language. Whatever it may be, first and foremost decide what to learn. You can then make this your main goal to complete at a certain time, depending on how big the subject is and how great a depth you plan to reach.
This brings us to the second step: research the sub-topics you need to learn to achieve the big goal. Those sub-topics are your mini-goals.
If you want to learn data analysis, for example, the common courses on the curriculum include an introduction to big data, modeling and management systems to analyze data, and so on.
Third, schedule and set aside time for learning. We don’t always have the time or money to learn, so adjust your learning schedules depending on your priorities. If the learning ties in with work and is crucial to your career, spend a little more time and/or money on it if necessary.
Once again, you can use the sub-topics as goals to reach your main goal. You’ll be able to see your progress and even return to review certain courses or content if you need to. The key is to plan ahead and keep track of your progress.
Setting aside time for learning promotes good learning habits. If you only wait until you have “free” time, learning will never happen because you’d want to use your free time to do other things, such as watch movies or relax.
Fourth, motivate yourself to learn. Learning comes naturally to many of us; often we don’t even realize that we’re constantly learning every day from work or the people around us. The best way is to take a break and integrate other activities into your week, rather than focusing only on learning.
Blended learning tackles the lack of motivation through different approaches. Some online learning platforms use gamification, with features such as point collection and ranking system to keep people engaged. This brings up some healthy competition among learners, motivating individuals to learn more so they can gain more points and rank higher.
Additionally, face-to-face classroom and training sessions can utilize gamification through interactive games and activities to stimulate learning.
The fifth and final point is to dive into your learning and apply it in real life. A little planning is great but to truly learn, you need to start. Don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes because this is a clear sign that you’re learning beyond your comfort zone.
Most of the time, people are afraid to begin because they have a fear of failing or making mistakes. They learn from classroom or training sessions, and read books but don’t begin to use that learning in real life. But true learning happens when you apply it in daily life or at work.
In sum, no one can force you to prioritize certain elements in life – even learning. You’ll need to see for yourself the importance and how crucial learning is for you and your future. At the end of the day, continuous learning is the way forward, especially in a world that is constantly changing.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa