For many, the beginning of the year doesn’t occur when the calendar turns the page from 2018 to 2019 on January 1st but instead it happens this month as the summer ends and our communities have a focus on back to school. We enjoy seeing children and college and university students join their classmates in the pursuit of new knowledge, skills and learning to work together.
The desire to learn new things has always been a very human trait from birth but over a lifetime each situation becomes more unique. Today the rapid pace of change reminds us of the need to constantly learn. This has never been so evident or so essential.
Individual interests may stem from a realization that you want to or need to catch up, keep up, move ahead, or lead. It may range from a feeling of drowning in new acronyms or changing jargon, to a desire to be at the “bleeding edge” in an area of specialty. It may be a simple curiosity, a few nagging questions, or a recognition that it is finally time to follow a life-long interest. Sometimes it is simply a drive to keep the grey cells exercised and you find yourself on a search for something with a 90-degree learning curve.
The certainty is that we frequently experience this nudge or push from the environment with varying levels of intensity.
Perhaps you seek an understanding of AI, FinTech, Blockchain, Bitcoin or neuroplasticity. From professional associations, public lectures, your local college or university, meetup groups, blogs and newsletters, TED talks and the huge offerings of online courses, there are many resources. As with the search for employment opportunities, networking is a way to find the specific resources best suited to your need. Asking your consultant, coach or mentor is a wonderful place to start. You may decide to seek a certificate or direct your own independent studies.
Although amazed by the accomplishments I hear from clients who complete employer-supported MBA, MSc or PhD degrees while working (for careers in certain sectors these academic credentials are required to move to the next level), this route is not a goal or choice for all.
For some, this year’s goal may be the very practical acquisition of new skill level in the use of Word, Excel or Power Point (many libraries offer free in-class training at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels).
For others, learning may be on a less formal but constant level. For example, the client who takes the GO train and reads the Economist from cover to cover each week reports that he read the overview of AI (artificial intelligence) twice.
With busy and demanding careers, many look beyond the traditional date-stamped learning and explore today’s wide variety of opportunities.
Next year when you do your annual career plan and resume review on a pre-set date (perhaps the day after your birthday or the day after your work anniversary) you may want to review your learning accomplishments and goals at that time.
Do you have a plan? Tell us about it!
Bernice Finley is a Principal with Feldman Daxon Partners.
- On September 20, 2018