Somewhere along the line, “learning” stopped being your “job” – It’s time to fix that – Let me explain…
I had the pleasure of hosting my daughters and their friends over spring break down in the Redneck Riviera.
During the week – two things became very apparent to me. First – I’m old. That was painfully obvious in my feeble attempts to keep up. Secondly – learning is their job. How cool is that?!
Think about it – In college, your job is to learn. You are expected (and measured) to acquire new knowledge, skills and abilities on a daily basis. Your entire life is organized around this objective. There are designated books, instructors, tutors, activities, tools, resources and entire buildings to facilitate and support your learning. It’s amazing!
At various points throughout the year you deliberately seek out new content and subject matter on which to concentrate. You have a long term plan of how to integrate, utilize and apply the learning toward your goals. You hone and refine the plan each year making yourself more capable and prepared.
I don’t know about you, but if I look at my calendar it is filled with tasks, obligations, emails and to-do’s – not learning. I don’t have time blocked out to “study,” “write,” or “research.” I don’t have a place to go where someone is going to fill my head with new concepts and interesting facts.
What happened? When did the switch occur?!
When did “learning” turn into “doing?” Worse yet – “surviving!”
It’s time to turn the trend around. Put “learning” back on your calendar every day (or at least every week). No, I don’t expect you to turn in your wingtips for Birkenstocks. That’s going too far. However, I do expect you to make learning your job again. I want you to dust off and recreate a personal “university experience.” Let me show you how…
How to create “You University”:
- Register for a Class – it is the most traditional method of learning. Fortunately, technology makes this much easier than before. Ten years ago, to audit a class required lots of time and money. You fight for parking at your local college and lose a night a week to the cause. Today, the number of on-line courses, webinars, podcasts and/or tutorials is amazing. If you haven’t checked out iTunes University – make that your first stop. Pick a topic, sign up and go. You could be taking a Harvard or MIT class instead of watching Seinfeld reruns tonight.
- Select an Elective – Let’s make your University a liberal arts school. As such, you need an elective course in the Art or Physical Education Department. You pick – do you want to start piano lessons? Guitar? Photography? Dance? Martial Arts? Painting? Pottery? I don’t care – think about a past passion or a desired ability – follow your heart and sign up. I can almost guarantee that class will be the hour you most look forward to each week!
- Join a Club – You may not find a Glee Club in your neighborhood, but the number of not-for-profits and admirable causes are endless. Pick an organization around which you have some curiosity or passion. Reach out and ask how to get involved. Donate time to do some good for others. It is also a great place to practice/hone your skills in leadership (lead a committee) or sales (help with fundraising). You learn about different organizations and you remember what’s really important – helping those with less.
- Study – If you recall, this requires quiet concentration. It involves taking notes, being deliberate and breaking out the highlighters and post-it notes. You remember how. Don’t fall victim to an out-of-control calendar. Schedule in time to think. Block out time to dive deeper into a topic – stop the ‘just-in-time’ lifestyle. If you can’t find time in your day, wake up 30 minutes early and study your topic of choice.
- Visit the Career Center – My daughters spend time thinking about their respective futures. They put deliberate effort into figuring out how and where they want to apply their ever-growing capabilities. You should too. Just because you have a “job” or “career” doesn’t mean you stop thinking about what’s next. If you can’t easily articulate your next two desired promotions or professional steps, you are at a disadvantage. It is hard to be deliberate without a target. It is easy to miss opportunities if you don’t know what to watch for.
- Have Fun – As busy as they are, my girls are having fun. They appreciate their blessings and opportunities. They make time for their friends and their health. It can be simple – a Starbucks with a friend while studying or a spontaneous Jimmy John’s sandwich break. It doesn’t matter what you do, but you must have some fun every week (ideally every day). If it isn’t finding you – go find it!
There you go – six relatively easy steps to starting You University! Get started today – make Learning your job again.
When you get there – grab a frisbee and meet me in the quad – Spring is almost here!