By Honey Langcaster-James, leading psychologist
No matter how old you are and what your life circumstances are, it’s never too late to boost your skills and learn new things.
Learning throughout life can actually be especially rewarding because you tend to learn about things you enjoy and find naturally interesting, rather than what you think you need to know for a qualification, as people do when they’re younger.
Learning at any age can be most beneficial when you do so regularly, so here are my top tips to get you started and help you get into lifelong learning habits in 2021:
Make learning time a priority
Set aside at least one hour per week for your ‘Learning Time’ and make this a priority that actually appears in your calendar and which your family knows about. By doing this, you protect the time you need, and it won’t get overtaken by the busyness of everyday life.
Blocking in a certain amount of time for learning a new skill means that you’ll never get to the end of a week and realise you’ve forgotten to do it.
Develop a learning routine
By keeping your learning time regular, such as by picking the same time and same day each week, it becomes easier to adopt into your lifestyle as a habit.
That way, it will become just a routine part of your typical activities and, after a while, you won’t think about why you’re doing it or find it hard to commit to because it will just be ‘what you do’.
Make sure to work the new routine into your current one, rather than shifting everything around and creating a confusing new schedule. It’ll be more likely to stick.
Follow your interests
Lifelong learning of new skills can benefit your health and wellbeing and your overall brain functioning.
Choose something you enjoy, that interests you, and that you would actually like to know more about. You’ll find it naturally far more motivating.
Take a free online course
By taking a free online course from The Skills Toolkit, you can easily integrate your learning routine into your everyday life, and you can also try different things to find out what you like.
All the courses have been chosen based on the skills employers need, so you’ll know you’re investing time in something that could benefit you in your current or future job.
You can learn without it costing you a penny, you can learn from anywhere, and you can even learn while sitting in your pyjamas if you wish!
Pick a skill, any skill
To get yourself started, just pick any skill at all to sample a lesson or two. You don’t have to commit straight away, you can figure out what you like and what you don’t.
With The Skills Toolkit, you can dip in and out of your chosen course in your own time and at your own pace, or even take a few different courses at the same time.
Often, it is indecisiveness that holds people back from getting started, so just pick anything at first, and then change if you wish at a later date.
Find a time that works for you
We have individual differences and personalities, so work with what’s right for you.
If you feel most motivated in the morning, perhaps do an online class or module with breakfast before work on a Monday to start your week feeling extra productive.
If you’re a night owl, perhaps an hour focussed on online learning in the evening would be best for you.
Set yourself goals
Having a goal to strive towards can be a good way to stay motivated and get a natural sense of reward from your learning.
Learning a new language for example can be fun, but it can be even more fun if you do so because you want to take a trip and use your new vocabulary abroad.
The same applies to learning new skills to boost your CV or work towards a promotion at work – taking short online courses could even inspire you to go on to take a qualification or look for a job in an entirely new area.
The Skills Toolkit – which aims to help boost the UK economy as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19 as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs – features more than 70 high-quality, online courses designed by some of the nation’s top employers and educational institutions including Amazon Web Services, FutureLearn, Lloyds Bank, LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft and The Open University. Learn more here.
Honey Langcaster-James, leading psychologist