Many people erroneously believe that once formal schooling is completed and one begins their adult career that learning is finished. This way of thinking suggests that after our late teens to the early twenties (in most cases), we live out the majority of our lives having learned all we need to know.
Most likely, this concept originates in the idea that learning only applies to formal education. After learning how to write, solve mathematical equations, and maybe even be able to identify a few landmarks on the globe, what else is there to possibly learn?
I would like for you to consider the following; while formal education certainly has its place in our early lives, is it not tremendously fallible to believe that the decades of actual experiences and challenges each of us are presented with almost constantly on a day to day basis are not learning opportunities?
Most of us would agree that as time goes by, we get better at the tasks and responsibilities delegated to us in our lives. While some of these certainly require applying basic principles acquired during our school years, many do not. The opinion that experience is the greatest teacher of them all is a strong one, and in your pursuit of self-improvement and goal realization, it is important that you crave new and unique experiences.
Experience cannot be found in the pages of any textbook, seminar, or self-help article on the Internet. You won’t become comfortable with driving a car, building a sailboat, or skydiving by hearing someone else talk about doing so. Experience is only obtained when we encounter new things in the physical realm, getting our hands dirty.
Chances are, you have experienced a multitude of things often enough to have gotten pretty good at them. I would be willing to bet you don’t still get nervous driving your car down the road, fulfilling your daily tasks at work, or cooking your favorite dish for dinner. These are certainly all noble endeavors, but if all you ever try your hand at is the select group of things taking up your 24 hours on a daily basis, how much are you actually learning?
Strive to be a lifelong learner.
Sure, there are certain requirements essential to your life that allow you to support yourself and people dependent on you. However, taking the time to explore other things this life has to offer, feeling the excitement, nervousness, even fear that comes with trying something for the first time is such a fulfilling experience.
I would venture to say that those of us who say they are completely fulfilled and happy doing the same exact things every day are either in denial or do not even realize the satisfaction that is waiting out there for them in the form of novel experiences. In case you were not aware, life is short; we have a limited amount of time on this wonderful planet to encounter the vast array of things it has to offer. I would ask even those who find satisfaction with the daily grind to step outside of their comfort zones every now and then to try out that hobby they have always thought they might like, make that trip to the part of the world they have only seen on postcards and magazine pages.
In stark contrast to the idea suggested at the beginning of this article, the majority of life is lived long after formal education has ended. Furthermore, the greatest teacher of them all is life itself. Therefore, it is safe to say that MOST of our learning occurs well after we walk across the stage to receive that piece of paper.