After finishing college, the last thing you may be interested in is reading a book or learning something new. That’s understandable since you’ve just spent the last few years learning... .and learning...and learning. You’ve studied all kinds of things and can speak about them intelligently. But graduating from college or other training programs shouldn’t be the end of your learning process.
What you know right now will likely change almost completely within five years. This is especially true in technology-related careers, where everything can change in a matter of five minutes.
Think about this: doctors and lawyers are required to undertake yearly continuing education to keep abreast of changes in their fields, updates, and new developments. Imagine if you were seeing a doctor who doesn’t know about a new surgical technique that would benefit you. Or that you were going to court with a lawyer who would argue your case based on a law that was overturned one, two, or even five years ago. Continuing medical and legal education (CME/CLE) are required to bring new developments to these professionals and help prevent them from making a potential mistake with far-reaching implications.
Shouldn’t you also consider continuous learning for the same reasons?
Whatever field you work in, keeping up-to-date with new developments has changed since night classes. Online learning makes continuous learning much easier than before, with availability nearly anytime you are. That means the courses and training you want to take are available at the touch of a button, and you don’t necessarily need to spend two or more years working for another degree.
But continuous learning doesn’t have to mean work-related. Picking up new skills can mean learning photography, cooking, a foreign language, coding, dog training, or anything else you’ve always wanted to learn to do. Whatever your interests, you can get an idea of what’s involved, or learn everything from massive open online courses (MOOC) that offer certificates. Many of these courses are inexpensive, or even free.
Mental stimulation pays long-lasting dividends, no matter what your age. Your mind is also a muscle and needs stimulation to keep functioning properly. Regularly learning new things keeps your mind a high-functioning muscle, prevents boredom and can slow the development of or prevent cognitive degenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
From watching a TED talk to reading a new book or taking an online course, there is no reason to let your mind wither, or worse, suffer from boredom. Continuous learning, in any form, can keep all of your synapses firing.
Technology changes quickly, sometimes overnight. If you’re in IT, you know how important it is to keep up with not only changes but patches, updates, and other “moving targets.” Jobs that require licenses and/or certification will also entail continuous learning (like the doctors and lawyers mentioned earlier.) Continuous learning helps you stay ahead of these changes. It’s vital that as an employee, you stay relevant and engaged to maintain and improve the skills that your job depends on every day.
New learning brings new perspectives, as well as the confidence you may not have experienced before. When you know the subject matter, or have a better understanding, you’ll also boost self-confidence as a result of your newfound knowledge and understanding. If you’re learning a new skill for work, you’ll be able to use it and discuss it confidently as well as help others who need to learn it for themselves.
Even if you take a course for enjoyment (i.e., cooking, crafts, foreign language) you’ll become happier while you learn, which will also increase your self-confidence.
If you have children or other family members that you’re trying to encourage, it does no good to lecture them about furthering their education when yours has stalled. If you haven’t finished your high school diploma, start finishing it. If you started college but never finished, look into degree programs, both classroom-based and online, that will help you complete your degree. And if you’re interested in updating your skillset or learning a new one without a degree, start researching your options and consider your options.
Learning a new skill like SAP is a great way to advance your career, and possibly qualify for promotions and raises. Learning new skills in any field will also increase your marketability in the event your company begins to downsize.
Some companies also offer incentives like bonuses to those who learn while they are employed. Others may offer tuition assistance or other incentives to learn or improve your skillset. But if your company doesn’t, and you’re interested in learning something new, there’s nothing wrong with “up-skilling” on your own, even if you’re not looking for a new job.
If you’re not happy in your current job, even with a degree, learning a new skill (like SAP) can help you transition into a new, better-paying career, whether with your current company or with a new one.
Companies that embrace continuous learning for their employees find themselves with happier, more productive workers. Skill enhancement improves productivity and impacts the bottom line. Effective companies are the ones that can adapt quickly to industry changes. It also costs less to train the employees that are already working for the company than to hire someone new. This 2017 study showed that hiring a new employee will cost as much as 33% of the employee’s salary.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center requires all employees to engage in some type of continuous learning at all levels.
Learning never really ends. There’s nothing wrong with being a “perpetual student” if it sharpens your intellect and gives you more skill, knowledge, or both.
Whether you decide to increase your skills to advance your career, change careers, or just learn something you’ve always wanted to do, continuous learning is easier than ever. You can work around your current schedule to make positive changes that will take you and your career wherever you want to go. Done correctly, continuous learning can pay off in spades for many years to come.
Michael Management is the leader in online SAP training. With a wide selection of current SAP training, you could be on your way to a new, well-paying and satisfying career in a short time. Learn on your schedule, on your own time, when it’s convenient for you.