A lifetime of learning

Whilst recently talking to my 5 year old about her school work, she announced that she couldnt wait to finish school because then she’d be “done with learning”. That started a good discussion about how I try to never stop learning and am trying to learn something new, every day. This does not necessarily need to be academic or work related, it could be a productivity hack, a new way of working, a different route or just simply trying and learning new things (e.g. in Microsoft Office, Teams etc).

As children, they look at the world full of wonder, every day is a learning opportunity and every activity is a chance to learn something new or try out something different. As adults, we lose that inquisitive nature (somewhat). It’s through being a parent, that I’ve tried to discover the joy of learning and the joy of building my professional portfolio through professional development.

Why is it important?

I strongly believe that if we do not continue to learn, we will lose our edge and focus. Our focus and skill in developing our talent within our chosen career. Just because, I am a Project Manager, does not mean that I am done once I have attained my PMP, it’s done. No, I will always strive to be a better, stronger PM so that i can deliver bigger, more complex and challenging projects.

It’s a requirement!

Have a look at your organisation. What does it say in your yearly targets/appraisal around learning? Do you have mandatory learning to be done? E.g. on compliancy, data protection, legal regulations?

Within the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, it is required that you get over 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) within a 3 year cycle. This can be attained through formal learning, volunteering and contributing back to the profession.

How to do it: Make it fun!

I try to ensure that learning never becomes forced or dull. I do this by picking and choosing different methods and ways of learning as well as ensuring that I’m not just learning in the same way. I’ve recently discovered audio books (I know… forgive me!) and it’s been a great way to absorb material whilst I’m running/walking etc. I’ve done several books this year solely when running which has been a great way to learn and think about the content whilst i’m on my own. You can also consider doing it with colleagues, friends or likeminded individuals. Over lockdown, I had a zoom call with a few Project Management friends and we would discuss a topic that we wanted to cover/ learn about. This became not only a way to stay connected to others but also to learn.

How to do it: Do it regularly

They say, practice makes perfect…. well instead of leaving your learning until the end of the year, do it throughout the year and month and make it become a positive habit in your day. In my agenda, I regularly schedule and block time out so that I can focus on my learning and avoid distractions.

Be an example!

When I block out time in my calendar, I’m sometimes asked “why?” or “can’t you do it another time?” and i always reply: There’s always something to do, there’s always something else that I could do during that time, but i’m making a conscious decision for the my professional development and taking that time for it. With your colleagues or friends, you could ask if anyone is interested in being a “study buddy” or studying together for your own professional development.

Conclusion:

We are what we learn. Consider new ways to develop yourself and look at the best way for you to learn. If you’ve tried reading, try online webinar or courses. If you’ve tried physical lectures, have a look at podcasts.

If you’re looking for a great way to learn and want to try online learning, please feel free to email/DM me for a 30 day free trial to Pluralsight and you can start your learning journey with my course: Developing Teamwork skills.

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