6 Ultimate Tips on Harnessing Self-Learning to Reach your Business Goals
You may think that your education ended when you walked across a stage, but formal education will only take you so far. The world is changing quickly, and with it, new technologies, techniques and entirely new industries are emerging! In fact, much of what you learned may no longer be relevant, which will require unlearning in order to stay current. For example, many grammar rules change over time as language evolves, not to mention the internet-shaped education gap for anyone who graduated before it became popular in the early 90s.
If you’ve ever transitioned from one career to another, you may have felt excitement, anticipation, or even terror at the prospect of leaping into the unknown and starting from scratch. Luckily, many skills and experiences provide transferable knowledge that can apply across industries — like dealing with customers, selling your product or service, or networking with other businesses. For the skills that don’t transfer — embracing a student-like mindset is key.
The most successful people are committed to life-long learning.
Of course, every experience can be an opportunity to learn — but being intentional with your time and effort will help you harness the power of self-education to reach your goals.
Here are our ultimate tips to harness self-education and become an expert in anything you want to do.
1. Unlearn it first.
We’ve already touched on this, but the importance really cannot be understated. Grade school is great at teaching us to be learners, to follow directions and to function as part of a social group — but not all the info you learned in class is relevant/accurate today! Learning new things will be much easier once you’ve accepted that some information is outdated. Ex. If you can accept that Pluto isn’t a planet, you’ll also be more receptive to all the other amazing advances in science and technology. We know, change is hard. Everybody loved that little guy.
2. Formal continuing education.
Many universities offer continuing education classes, some of which can be audited individually at a relatively small cost vs. a certificate program (although certificates are fun too). Some post-secondary institutions also offer workshops and one-day classes through professional development or personal enrichment departments. Don’t have the cash for a crash course? Don’t fret. Depending on your topic of interest, some courses may be free for the public, such as the University of Alberta’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Looking to add video skills to your repertoire so you can take your business to YouTube or TikTok? Want to learn web or graphic design so your website will be worthy of an A grade? The possibilities really are endless!
Sometimes it pays to have a person you trust to take you under their wing, someone who knows their business inside and out and has a proven track record. Lived experience is, after all, one of the best ways to learn. If you’re looking for a mentorship, spend some time considering who your industry heroes are, including at the local level.
Is there anyone in your network, or perhaps at a second or even third degree of separation, whose career spells #GOALS? Make some notes about what you’re looking to learn from that person and then reach out! Most will be at least flattered that you’re interested in learning from them. Some may offer free advice, and others may require payment for their expertise. If the worst thing that can happen is they say no, it’s worth a try!
If you don’t have any personal or business connections you can tap for mentorship, consider looking into a professional organization for your industry. Many will provide mentorship services. If you’re looking for another maker in the Flagstaff Region to connect with, consider using the Flagstaff Crafted directory to find someone who might be able to connect with you to offer encouragement and support.
4. Find it free.
There are many free resources online! A simple search inquiry will help you find articles, sites and other resources to learn from. Dedicate some time, pour a glass of wine and get your Google on.
Fancy a visit to the library? Whether you go in person or check out their online catalogue, your library will have many free resources. Some libraries also organize speakers, webinars and workshops for free or at a low cost.
Okay, not quite free, but keep an eye on the used textbook section of your local bookstore. One person’s $400 mandatory course textbook could be your window into a new skill.
5. Read, listen or watch.
No matter your learning style, there’s something out there for you. Auditory learners will enjoy the plethora of podcasts available through applications such as Spotify, as well as audiobooks on apps like Audible.
Visual and auditory learners may get the most out of YouTube videos, Ted Talks and documentaries. That’s right, settling in for a night of Netflix can be educational too (just make sure you’re taking notes).
6. Jump in and try it out.
We’ve been dancing around this one from the start, but it’s important to mention that a lot of learning comes from DOING. You know you need a website for your business, but you’ve been putting it off because you’re not a web designer? There are many platforms, like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix, that cater specifically to newbies with no coding experience whatsoever. Know you should be on TikTok but just don’t understand how it works? Get on there and start experimenting! Treat it as a learning experience — it doesn’t need to be perfect right away.
Make some goals for your business and brainstorm new things you could try to reach those goals. Don’t cross them off the list because they’re scary or you don’t have the skills — experiment!