Be A Lifelong Learner

If you were to develop one skill to help you in all aspects of your life, what would it be?

Studies have shown that one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to become a lifelong learner. What exactly is a Lifelong Learner? A simple definition is that it is someone that “engages in  the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.”  Why should you be a Lifelong Learner? Because, quite simply, without learning, the mind stagnates.

Thankfully, becoming a lifelong learner isn’t hard. Below are ten easy ways to build a habit of learning that will serve you in years to come.


Unless you make lifelong learning a priority, you’re not going to do it. You start with committing to change and then go from there.

Create a Personalised Learning Environment

True learning results when you take charge of your learning environment. Sit down with your mentor and make concrete goals. Set up a system that enables you to learn and a setting in which you can learn. Once you have this, you are truly ready to begin.


Read books, magazines, news articles, academic journals, and anything that catches your attention. If it’s interesting to you, then it’s worth perusing.

Keep a List

Have a question? Write it down. Come back to this list later and Google the answers. Let this become the jumping off point for learning new things.


Create a project out of one of the things you find interesting. Set goals, give a timeline, and a final deadline to complete it. Invite others to take part in your project with you. You learn so much more when you collaborate. Create milestones and celebrate each one on your road to completion.


Engage with and socialize with  people who also enjoy learning. These will become your encouragers and mentors along the way.

Become a Mentor Yourself

We all have something we’re good at and could help others learn. Your particular skill set might be what someone else needs to succeed. By getting involved in mentoring, you find yourself not only cementing the knowledge you already have but learning new things as well.

Study with Others

When you work with a group, it’s generally easier to learn as you can draw upon the base of shared knowledge. That, in turn, helps you to discover new things yourself.

Seek out a Job that Encourages Lifelong Learning

The final step toward lifelong learning is to find work where you are encouraged to learn new things, and which continually challenges you.

Remember, building habits that lead to lifelong learning relies on repetition. Consciously engage in learning activities as often as possible, making them a part of every single day if you can, for optimal success.

Unlock Your Creativity

Whether you have a job that requires you to be creative, or you want to see just how creative you could be, there are many reasons why you might be thinking about unlocking your creative genius. There are several ways that have been shown to help promote creative thinking, but remember that not everything works for everyone and you may have to experiment to find out what works for you.

Have a nap

Taking a nap or just sleeping on it for the night can work wonders on your brain and creativity. Some people spend hours in one day thinking about a problem or considering ways to be more creative with a certain project. By going to sleep, resting your mind and body and then waking up the next day, you can magically unlock some extra creativity and solve your problems.

Talk to other people

This isn’t necessarily stealing other people’s ideas, but just talking to others can help you to think of new and creative ideas. You don’t have to speak to people you spend a lot of time with – in fact, it can be more useful to connect with those you wouldn’t otherwise chat to. At work, spend time in the kitchen during your lunch break trying to chat with other colleagues about their work or the projects they have been working on. Outside of work, chat to others whenever you can – you never know what may spark some creativity!


The more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more your mind will be stimulated and able to think more clearly. You don’t have to read books about creativity in order to promote creative thinking. Even by reading newspapers and magazines, you can find inspiration where you never guessed it.

Keep working

You don’t have to work non-stop all the time, but it’s not such a great idea to stop doing everything altogether. When you’re taking time off work, don’t allow yourself to sit at home doing nothing at all as this can soon stifle your creativity before long.

Stay healthy

Keep yourself hydrated, eat good foods and exercise on a regular basis. Not only will this keep you happy, but you might start to notice yourself becoming more creative or taking on creative projects with more ease. Start small and build your way into a healthier lifestyle.

Learning To Reflect

At this time of year we all tend to be a little more reflective as we think back over the year that has gone and ponder what is to come. I know I have certainly found myself reflecting on the experiences, challenges and opportunities that 2018 has presented and am looking forward to hopefully securing a new role as a Learning and Development Manager early in the New Year.

Sometimes when we reflect we can focus on the negatives and that can be worthwhile if we look at the learning from those experiences. However, we also need to ensure that we reflect on the positives as well and again take the learning from them into the year ahead. But how do you become more self-reflective or if this is a new idea for you how do you start?

Being self-reflective simply means that you look inside yourself to find out what you could do differently. When you are more self-reflective, you tend to have strong emotional intelligence, act with integrity always, and be a lot more confident due to that. To become more self-reflective, you may want to do some self-reflective exercises.

  1. Positive Affirmations – It may help to write down as many positive affirmations as you can on strips of paper. Put them in a jar. Whenever you need to think positively about yourself, just pull out one of them and focus on what it says. You don’t really have to write them down, though; you can tell yourself positive affirmations about any situation that is currently happening in order to relax and look inward.
  2. Meditate – The practice of meditation where you sit and empty your mind for a period will help you become more mindful. The act of clearing your mind will bring things to your mind that you need to attend to later. But, for now, when you meditate, take a few minutes to think of nothing and to totally clear your mind of everything but your breathing method.
  3. Create a Vision Board – One way to reflect is to create a vision board about your hopes and dreams. You can even create one after the fact of something that happened, as a way to process the event and work through any issues that occurred.
  4. Ask Yourself Questions – “What could I do better next time?” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, but if you can ask and answer this question, you’re going to give yourself great insight – especially if you remember this when you’re in a similar situation.
  5. Keep a Bullet Journal – A bullet journal is where you write down just words to remember what happened instead of sentences. When you need to reflect on something, you can look back at past entries. When you need to reflect on the future, you can project positive entries.

These exercises can help you look into yourself in a different way. You’ll feel more competent, useful, and grateful in life when you do these self-reflective exercises designed to look inside your mind in a gentle and positive way.

Techniques to Use as Part of Your Reflection

There are a techniques to use as a part of your reflective practice, but the best choices to start with will be the easiest, so you can get started quickly and make it a part of your daily life. As you get into the habit of reflective practice, you can then spot patterns and use the techniques to start to dig deeper if you need to.

The three main steps in reflective practice are:

  1. Reflection
  2. Understanding
  3. Action

…so the techniques you use should help support these goals. In addition, your choice will be determined by whether the reflective practice is to be conducted individually or in a group, such as within your business team or a social group who want to learn how to work better together in order to improve their skills and results.


A written journal, notes or a diary can all keep you focused on the process of reflective practice. For each event you wish to examine, answer the following questions:

  1. What happened? (Be factual)
  2. What you were thinking and feeling? (Explore your emotions)
  3. What was good and bad about the experience? (Evaluate)
  4. What sense can you make of the experience? (Analyse)
  5. What else could you have done? (Draw conclusions)
  6. If a similar situation arose again what would you do? (Set goals and create an action plan)

This can be done individually or as a team, depending on the event and your group’s willingness to try this method to improve their results.


If you don’t have time for a lot of writing, try brainstorming and creative imagery, such as mind-mapping, sketches, pictures and diagrams that show cause, effect, and outcomes – including possible different outcomes your and/or your group might wish to work towards.

Reflective Dialogue and Discussion

This can also work well for groups. If you feel “stuck” in your life, you might also discuss what happened with your partner, a trusted colleague, or with a mentor, coach or professional – either face-to-face or by phone or email.

Social Media

You might have a private blog or closed group at a site like Facebook. You might also decide to have broader discussions with your Personal Learning Network (#PLN) on Twitter, at chat boards, online communities, the Intranet at work, and so on.

Now that we’ve covered a range of techniques to use as a part of your reflective practice, choose the ones that will work best for each situation you and/or your team want to reflect upon, and see what a difference they can make.

Discovering Those Learning Moments

Ever since my friend Ady Howes asked a question on Twitter under the hashtag #LoveCPD the role of reflection as part of our learning process has been very much at the forefront of my mind. It’s for that reason that I have interrupted my planned series of posts and want to reflect on reflective practice or discovering our learning moments.

Nowadays there is a great deal of emphasis placed on being our best self. Some of the techniques for accomplishing this are thousands of years old; they just have a new name. Reflective practice is the new term for the ancient process of trying to “know yourself” in order to transform your life through positive change.

The word reflective refers to reflection, or thinking about, certain areas of your life or events in your life and how they turned out. As the event is reflected upon, you are able to explore it in greater depth in order to learn lessons from your experience. As a result of what you learn, you can develop goals to improve your skills in that particular area and follow through with action steps to achieve your goals.

If you’ve been feeling “stuck” in your career or personal life, reflective practice could just be what you’re looking for to transform your life. Let’s look at how to get started.

Starting Reflective Practice

A good starting point is to keep a diary or journal. A small notebook that can be carried with you and/or a folder on your computer with various files you create can all help.

Next, it is important to understand the process of reflection in reflective practice. Reflection is an active process of observing your own experiences in order to evaluate how you were able to handle certain events or occurrences in your life. It is not intended to make you feel bad or beat yourself up over what did or didn’t happen. For each event you wish to explore, simply evaluate the situation in a calm manner to learn from it.

Some events will not require a great deal of analysis. Others might be worth digging deeper because you might spot a pattern or problem you weren’t aware of before.

Learning from Past Actions

A lot of us can be negative and pessimistic. Our negative self-talk tells us we are a “loser” or failure. Reflective practice can help transform you into a winner by cutting the cord of negativity and setting you on a path to personal transformation.

The secret of successful reflective practice is to learn how to look at your actions and experiences without being quick to judge them. It also means taking the time to examine them – rather than just rush to the next thing on your to-do list without learning any lessons from what you’ve said, accomplished, or tried to do.

Through examination, we learn more about ourselves, and in that process of learning, we open ourselves up to a range of new possibilities. Through learning from experience, we can become even more successful in our personal and professional lives.

Learning Moments

We’ve all done it. Repeated the same mistake at least twice. Had a “disaster” in terms of our work life or personal life, such as the loss of a job or the (bad) breakup of a relationship. When this happens, have you:

  1. Stuck your head in the sand and just ignored what was happening?
  2. Blamed others for what happened?
  3. Or did you sit down to reflect on what happened to see what lessons you could learn from it?

Chances are that like many others, you’ve done 1 and 2 most of the time up until this point in your life. With reflective practice, it is time to begin doing #3 regularly.

You can start small and then work your way up to the bigger issues as and when you need to. You can start your journal with something that happened today in your work or personal life, and reflect on how it went.

For example, did you have to give a PowerPoint presentation at a meeting today? How did it go? Were you prepared? Were there any technical or other issues that cropped up? If so, how did you handle them?

Maybe you talked to a family member on the phone and things got a little out of hand. What happened? Were there any things you could have done or said differently?

We hate it when things don’t go well at work or we argue with the people we care about. Often, though, these are some of the best “learning moments” that can highlight areas of our life we need to work on in order to be our best self. Once you have evaluated the event, think about what lessons you’ve learned and how you can do better next time.

In relation to the presentation, it might be:

  • Get to the room earlier to set up better
  • Conduct a practice run using the equipment to avoid technical glitches
  • Make the lettering on the slides bigger so everyone at the back could also see clearly

In relation to the phone call with the family member:

  • Don’t mention topic X
  • Avoid the blame game
  • Change the subject if they start going on at you about Y or Z
  • Remind them you are an adult and while you appreciate their input and caring, you’ve already discussed the issue at least once and don’t need to again.

These are just a few examples. You should be able to come up with many of your own, relevant to your personal circumstances, once you start on the path of reflective practice.

In subsequent posts I will delve a little deeper into this.