• Charli

Wellness Matters 28.01.2022

Lifelong Learning

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

Are you open to learning? Do you look for opportunities to inform yourself about current events, art, music, creativity or sport? The internet is awash with joyful stories of people learning new skills, improving their health and feeling rejuvenated. Perhaps it is because we are all living longer, but it wasn’t so long ago that the age of retirement could be as young as 55 years old for a man. With no other thought than to attend at the golf club or potter in the garden, learning in later life wasn’t seen as being of value.

Whilst making transitions through various stages of the learning journey, first as a child, and then as an adult, I thought there would come a point when I would stop learning. I assumed that once I had a degree which provided me the necessary skills to acquire a teaching job, that was surely enough?

Of course that couldn’t be further from the truth, and throughout my teaching career, I participated in numerous training courses, undertook postgraduate programmes of study, and engaged with curriculum updates to improve learning experiences for the young people in my care. Personally I enjoyed becoming a swimming coach, and loved stretching myself on creative writing courses, drawing classes and floristry. I threw myself a curve ball with dog walking but proofreading has been extremely useful.

I am curious by nature, some might say nosey, but there was always a sense that if something could be done then I wanted to know how to do it. Not, I hasten to add, to prove I could be better, but because I was keen to unleash any dormant skills.

I am more realistic now, recognising that not only do I have limited capacity there are many areas in which I have very little interest or talent. DIY? Nope! Car mechanics? No thank you.

However, I will keep learning and am currently listening to Johann Hari's 'Stolen Focus’ on Audible, while preparing myself to ‘get into the flow’: professionally, I am participating in EMCC Team Coaching Practitioner Level in March, and have some pre-course reading to undertake; personally, by keeping to my writing schedule.

During coaching sessions, I continue to learn and grow, developing my own understanding, while aligning these to my values. I am and always have been non-judgemental, and that in itself creates a safe environment where I actively listen to my clients, and work with them to resolve their issues.

So if you have been swithering as to how to ensure growth and development for yourself, choose what stimulates you most and apply yourself to it. Don’t allow distractions, especially from social media, to be the reason you didn’t play the guitar, change job, grow a vegetable bed, write a story or paint a picture.

Be brave, be assured, let go of uncertainty, step out from your own self- imprisonment and keep asking, learning and developing.

My grandmother undertook an English GSCE when she was in her 70s; my mother obtained her BA Drama while in her 40s. I changed career in my 50s.

If you are comfortable with your status quo, congratulations, but try not to assume to know what others are learning while you choose to stand still. Stop scurrying for information to justify a stale or outmoded viewpoint. Get curious, ask questions and listen to understand, not just to respond. The world keeps moving, you can move with it, or be left behind.

Remember change is hard but as Winston Churchill put it:

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

Have an awesome week.

Photo: Twa Craws.

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