Just this morning, I was talking to my best friend about people who “peaked” in high school. We then drifted off to talking about what getting stuck in the past means, and we both came to the conclusion that when you’re always learning new things, there’s never a “peak.”
That’s because every chapter is exciting!
How exactly do you develop this kind of outlook? How do you become a lifelong learner who’s always on the hunt for new things to discover?
In this article, I’ll talk about the 10 habits of lifelong learners, those who find joy in constantly growing and evolving.
Let’s get started!
1) They explore things they are curious about
Lifelong learners begin showing that love for learning from a very young age.
They’re the ones who are infinitely curious about the world around them – those who take things apart to find out how they work, or go on nature walks and prod everything with a stick, or do science experiments…
Simply put, they’ve got to find out the what’s, where’s, how’s and why’s of things!
Curiosity is the driving force behind their hunger for knowledge, and it keeps them engaged and motivated to learn new things, even when they grow up.
These people often exhibit a child-like wonder, never losing their sense of amazement at the world around them.
2) They read… a lot
Another thing I’ve noticed about lifelong learners is that they’re almost always avid readers. Again, that stems from their curiosity about the world.
Reading helps them stay informed about the world, learn from others’ experiences, and develop new perspectives. Whether it’s books, articles, blogs, or even social media, they make a habit of consuming content that feeds their mind and broadens their horizons.
And they don’t just read books because they have to. No, they WANT to; they read just for pleasure and personal growth, across various genres and subjects.
That’s why they have a well-rounded knowledge base and are very open-minded about other people’s perspectives!
3) They prioritize learning
Okay, so here’s the deal about learning new things – you’ve got to be intentional about it. That’s what lifelong learners do.
They make it a priority in their lives; they don’t leave it to happenstance.
So how does prioritizing learning look like?
Basically, it’s scheduling time for learning, just like you would with other important activities. Actively seek out opportunities to learn, like classes, workshops, books, podcasts, and so on.
I’ll share a quick story about my elderly neighbor, who is truly one of the people who inspire me.
She’s in her 90s, but has a mind so sprightly that it’s always refreshing to talk to her. Whenever I would go visit her, she would share something new she learned from whatever class she was taking.
Off the top of my head, she’s taken classes in pottery, music, archery, baking, Spanish language, nature writing…the list goes on and on!
When you make learning a central part of your life, it becomes a core value and an ingrained habit, well into old age!
4) They seek diverse experiences
This is connected to my previous point – that drive for learning is fueled by the desire to seek diverse experiences.
Look, the world we live in is so vast and colorful. No matter how much we think we already know, there’s always something new to discover. There are thousands of cultural experiences we don’t know about!
But – to learn about all of them, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. And that’s a good thing!
For me, the comfort zone is one of the most dangerous places to get stuck in, growth-wise. When you’re always circling around in that area, you’re limiting yourself to the familiar.
Limiting your own growth.
So, be open to trying new things. Scared of traveling solo? Then, do that. Scared of talking to someone with a different cultural background? Do exactly that!
There’s a Neil Gaiman saying that encapsulates this perfectly: “Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.”
It’s going to add so much depth and texture to your life!
5) They surround themselves with other learners
Remember my elderly neighbor I loved talking to? I’m circling back to that because it drives home the point that lifelong learners love being with other learners.
As a lifelong learner, I’ve always abided by the saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
I love finding inspiration and motivation from other people who share a passion for personal growth. It’s always time spent wisely.
Exchanging ideas, sharing resources, and learning from each other’s experiences…you can’t put a price on those things!
6) They set SMART goals
This is another habit of lifelong learners. To be clear, SMART in this case means:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Now, why do goals need to be this way?
Because when they are too big and vague, it can be overwhelming to even get started!
You want your goals to be easy to reach, so break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. That way, you can stay motivated and keep pushing on, and you have a greater chance of meeting them.
7) They learn from their mistakes
Just because you’ve gotten goal-setting down to an art doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. Of course not. You’ll definitely be making mistakes.
But mistakes don’t have to get you down. In fact, mistakes are perfect vehicles for learning, but only if you have a growth mindset.
You see, the growth mindset tells you, “What can you learn from this?” instead of seeing mistakes as personal failures or proof of incompetence.
When you look at it like that, you’ll see these missteps as “failing forward.” Isn’t that a clever spin on something typically considered bad?
8) They are open to feedback
Just like mistakes, feedback is also a great learning opportunity. I’ve always found it super helpful when someone gives me a bit of constructive criticism.
It can be tough to hear at times, but when you think about it, feedback is like a little nudge in the right direction.
Now, I know it’s not always easy to take feedback with a smile, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into something. But for people who love learning, taking feedback well comes naturally.
That’s because they see it as a peek into someone else’s thought process. And you know what, sometimes it’s really eye-opening. You’d be amazed at how you can get a totally different perspective you’d never thought of before!
If this as an area you struggle with, here are some ways to feel more comfortable with the idea of receiving constructive criticism:
- Keep an open mind. Be willing to listen.
- Don’t be defensive – remember, it’s not a personal attack.
- Ask questions if you need more clarity.
- Reflect on how you can apply the feedback to your situation.
- Thank the person who shared their insights with you.
9) They practice self-reflection
If you check the list above, you’ll find that self-reflection is on it. I’ve found it to be an essential part of my own learning journey.
It’s not just about imbibing all these new and different experiences and information. It’s also about thinking deeply about them and seeing how they can fuel your growth.
People who love learning take the time to do this because it helps them identify areas for improvement, set new goals, and come up with new strategies to overcome challenges.
Self-reflection also helps them stay connected to their inner selves, so they can better understand their motivations and aspirations.
10) They’re adaptable
The huge benefit of self-reflection and being able to take feedback? They know how to adapt.
If there’s one thing lifelong learners understand, it’s that the world is constantly changing. Even the information they know changes, so they’re all about being flexible and dealing with those changes as they happen.
They recognize that what worked yesterday may not work today, and they’re willing to adjust their strategies and methods to stay ahead of the curve.
So, does this all sound like a lot? Maybe, because it takes a lot of courage to keep trying new things and discipline to have an intentional attitude towards learning.
But trust me, the rewards are immeasurable. Setting yourself up for lifelong learning means you’ll always be sharp and full of excitement. You’ll always be on your toes and getting better, smarter, more skilled.
Not only that, but every season of your life will feel so much richer than the one that has just gone by!