‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.’ – Henry Ford
Life in itself is a continuous process of learning. Even if you’re not formally enrolled in an educational institution, you are still learning (you have to be very resistant in order not to).
Reading, everyday experiences and regular interaction with people around you are all opportunities for growth and development. Being aware of the value of learning is an essential part of discovering one’s true potential, and continuous improvement is the key to long-term health and happiness in your career, body, and mind.
Here are 3 key benefits of constantly learning and improving:
1. Body Benefits
Henry Ford may have been onto more than he knew with the above quote. Anyone who enjoys the thrill of learning new things or mastering a new skill knows how you certainly feel younger in those moments, but a growing body of research shows it may literally keep you young.
When you continually stimulate your brain with lifelong learning activities, it acts as a kind of vaccination against neurological degeneration. In this sense, you can think of the brain as a muscle needing exercise to keep it fit and healthy, so take a “use-it-or-lose-it” approach. Dr. Charles Gilbert of The Rockefeller University, recent winner of the 2015 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience, summed it up by saying,“We need to recognize the importance of challenging our minds as a vital component of health, and of mental health.”
Both the construction of memory and the repair of damage to the brain depend deeply on mental stimulation.
2. Mind Benefits
If you want to get better at something or learn a brand new skill, what do you do? You learn about it, and then you practice it until you achieve mastery. Part of what’s happening in this process is gaining more confidence. Just like the use-it-or-lose-it approach to brain fitness and health, think of confidence in the same way – as if it’s a muscle that will atrophy without regular exercise.
The surest way to build confidence is by making sure you’re always trying new things, practising new things, and mastering new skills. Everyone already knows that learning is a vital component to cognitive development in children, but sometimes it drops off the radar screen for adults. However, the research is clear: lifelong learning has a positive impact on both wellbeing and resilience. What comes into play as mediating factors are self-esteem, self-efficacy, and sense of purpose, to name just a few.
3. Career Benefits
The days when a person joined a company and stayed there for an entire career are long gone in today’s increasingly mobile world. For the first time in human history, there’s a good chance you’ll outlive the organization for which you currently work. To keep yourself as marketable as possible in an ever-changing job market, you must broaden and deepen your skill sets – and lifelong learning is the only sure pathway forward.
With evidence-based benefits for your body, mind, and career, it is clear that lifelong learning should be among your top priorities. As training and development guru Brian Tracy puts it, “Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”
The time to start lifelong learning is now.