Learning is the whole purpose of life – and so to truly life it, you must be a lifelong learner.
You may wonder what defines these people, and how to know if they — or you — are one.
Well, we’re about to break it down. Here are 7 things that lifelong learners do.
1) They read, listen to, or watch something every day
Lifelong learners love to learn — duh. Many people say that lifelong learners read every day, but I would say that’s too specific.
I have a great friend who is probably one of the most passionate learners on the planet. But he doesn’t like to read. (I gave him a book for his birthday once — I’m pretty sure he still hasn’t gotten past the third page).
On the other hand, he does love to watch youtube videos.
He always has a few documentaries or tutorials saved on his phone, and watches them in any spare moment. On breaks at work, while sitting on the bus… I even ran into him once, quite literally, as he watching videos while walking on the street!
Another friend of mine loves to listen to podcasts, and puts them on whenever she’s jogging or doing work around the house.
All of this counts — knowledge doesn’t just come from the page, but many different formats.
So whether you devour books, videos, podcasts, courses, or even conversations with people around you, you can consider yourself a lifelong learner.
2) They believe it’s never too late to start something new
Lifelong learning means just what it says — learning throughout your whole life.
No matter if you’re 17, 25, 30, 50, or 80!
There is no such thing as being “too old”, or it being “too late” for you to start learning something.
I am particularly inspired by the older individuals I know in my life. My neighbor, for example, decided to take up pottery at 84 years old.
Of course, she wasn’t the best at it at the beginning. But she never let that stop her. And now, one year later, her place is filled with beautiful bowls, vases, and decorative pieces.
If you allow yourself to be held back by the belief that it’s “too late” for something, you deprive yourself of wonderful experiences and uncovering talents you didn’t even know you could have.
So if you ever catch yourself thinking that you can’t start a new passion or researching a new topic, think of my neighbor. I hope it will inspire you to give whatever it is you like a shot too.
3) They take really great care of their bodies
Learning happens in the mind — but people who take it seriously know they need to take great care of their bodies too.
Think back to the last time you were sick. When your head hurts, your muscles ache, or you feel queasy, you probably don’t have an easy time engaging your mind in any meaningful way.
I know I myself just lay in bed, unable to think about anything that engages more than 3 neurons.
This makes sense when we consider John F. Kennedy’s quote: “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of creative intellectual activity.”
Though he’s not a famous politician, I always think of something my dad used to tell me too. “When the mind is too tired, you have to make your body work instead.”
And from my experience, he’s totally right. Exercising your body gives your mind a break, as you’re focused on moving your body. (Make sure you let your mind wander or listen to music at most!)
And when it rejuvenates, you’re able to get back to learning with that much more energy.
4) They reset their life periodically
Everyone reading this article is different in many ways, but here’s one thing we definitely have in common: we’ve all felt stuck at some point.
Lifelong learners are no exception. No matter who you are or where you grew up, we all run up against a wall or don’t know what to do next sooner or later.
But lifelong learners aren’t so fazed by this. They see it as an opportunity to pause, reflect and reset.
They process their thoughts and feelings, learn from the situation, and find a new path that helps them keep moving forward in a better direction.
The truly great news? This is something that actually anyone can do.
In fact, I know someone who recently got over a hump like this, and he’s doing better than ever. I asked him how he got through it so well, and he emailed me this link to a Reset Your Life Compass Challenge.
It gives you the guidance you need to consider what parts of your life need a change, and how to bring that about. And the best part is, it’s completely free.
So if you’re at a time where you find yourself feeling stuck and in need of a reset, make sure to check it out here.
5) They have multiple passions
I’ve always admired people who knew from a young age what they loved, and went after it with everything they’ve got.
Whether it’s a sport, a hobby, or a career.
I’m certainly not one of these people. In fact, I’ve always been curious about so many topics, I have an extremely hard time choosing anything to focus on.
But recently, I’ve realized that may not be a bad thing. Instead, it’s a sign that I’m a lifelong learner.
You can of course keep learning even if you have just one big passion. You put 100% into it, and become a total master at it.
But branching out is extremely helpful in many ways. You can apply skills you learn from different interests in new areas, and connect dots between ideas you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
Plus, having a deep love for learning usually doesn’t apply to just one area — you find yourself interested in a number of different topics, even if it’s to a lesser extent.
6) They track their progress
People who love learning tend to set goals for themselves. But more than that, they track their progress.
After all, what good is setting goals if you have no idea whether you’re getting closer to them?
The point is not that lifelong learners are fixated on some finish line. Actually, it may not matter to them that much when or how they reach their final goal.
Instead, they focus on and appreciate every step they take on the way — no matter how small.
You may do this by journaling about your improvements, or tracking your performance in measurable terms in an app. Or, you might choose to just reflect on how far you’ve come.
A friend of mine has been learning dancing for the past two years, and he makes sure to video record himself every few months so that he can compare how he’s doing.
This is super important because otherwise, it can be hard to see how far we’ve come.
This fuels your passion for learning, as the process of reaching goals becomes that much more enjoyable.
7) They are able to welcome change
Change can be pretty scary — especially if it’s unexpected. We may lose things we cherish, or at least find ourselves having to figure out unfamiliar situations.
Lifelong learners are not some sort of superhero with a heart of steel — they worry too. But their love for learning does help them embrace and adapt to the change.
Because you will never learn if everything always stays the same. As uncomfortable as it can be, being thrown into the unknown is what makes you adapt and grow.
It does take time to develop this positive mindset. Personally, what helped me most is the realization that change can be very negative in the moment, but turn out to be incredibly good for you in the long run.
For example, someone I know lost a job that she really loved because of Covid layoffs. She was super sad when it happened, and grieved the loss of a great community of colleagues and fulfilling work.
She was forced to look for something new, and joined a small local company. Well, three years later she’s married to someone she met through that company, and has built up her own business that gives her everything she wanted from a career.
Of course, I hope you have a minimum amount of negative change in your life — but as it’s inevitable, we may as well learn to appreciate it.
Are you a lifelong learner? If you do any one or several of these 7 things, you can confidently say that you are.
But remember, there is always room for improvement! As we mentioned above, you should consider this a journey rather than trying to get to a specific destination.
And if you do, you’ll empower yourself to really flourish throughout your entire life.
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