Although most people use these terms interchangeably, education and learning are not precisely the same. There’s a fine line between the two and a lot of overlap, which is why no one pays much attention to the differences. Education refers to learning that happens in a formal setting and is usually mandatory and structured by institutions and organizations. It’s a systematic process that allows people to acquire and develop the necessary skills, abilities and knowledge to perform different tasks and activities that could help them in various aspects of their lives. We get educated at school, college, university or training programs at work, so education is something that’s provided by external sources to certain categories of people.
Learning, on the other hand, is an intellectual phenomenon that happens naturally and leads to acquiring new skills and knowledge through study or practice. It can be intentional or unintentional, but it’s not dictated or imposed upon us by educational institutions. People engage in learning every single day, whether they are aware of it or not, so it’s a lifelong process that everyone gets to experience.
That’s why learning continues even after completing formal education. Unfortunately, the majority of people focus too much on classroom-based studies and not enough on learning outside the formal structures of the educational system. Although both are equally important, making a conscious and voluntary effort to learn new things on a constant basis, without relying on external factors as a source of motivation, comes with a range of benefits that we’re going to explore further in this article.
When it comes to continuous learning, motivation can be both a driving force and a purpose. That’s because you need strong intrinsic motivation to keep learning and as you do that you also become more motivated to expand your skills and knowledge. In other words, the more you learn, the more you want to learn.
After you’ve learned one thing, you’ll be tempted to focus your attention on a new topic and then another, until learning becomes an exciting activity that one does deliberately and not a dreadful task. It’s like a self-powering wheel that continues to turn and take you further and further down the knowledge path. Self-motivation is something that a lot of people struggle with, so pushing oneself to learn new things every day may be the key to unlocking motivation.
Finding new interests
Learning allows one to explore their interests and discover new ones while doing so. For example, someone who is passionate about skincare and enjoys decoding ingredients in cosmetic products might come to develop an interest in chemistry and even pursue a career in this field.
As you continue to explore subjects that you’re enthusiastic about, you’ll inevitably find related topics that will pique your curiosity, and you’ll be compelled to seek more information on things that are connected to your primary source of interest. And as you develop new interests, you’ll also develop new goals, which ties back to self-motivation as goal setting can lead to greater success and performance and ultimately make you a more motivated person.
There seems to be a close connection between confidence and learning, which is quite logical if you come to think about it. When you become good at something through study and you are able to understand or do things that you previously weren’t good at, you get a feeling of accomplishment which also translates into greater self-confidence and self-esteem.
With knowledge comes power and the ability to unlock your true potential. Becoming more knowledgeable and skilled in a specific field will make you more confident, poised and self-assured when dealing with situations related to your area of expertise. Not only that, but it will also make you more aware of your own capacity, so you can use your newfound confidence to improve in other areas as well.
The brain is often compared to a muscle, and even though technically speaking the brain is actually an organ, the point of the metaphor is to emphasise that brain cells operate in a similar manner as muscles, meaning that both need to be exercised in order to stay healthy and strong. In other words, you need to use it or else you lose it.
Exercising your brain is obviously different from exercising your muscles. The best way to go about mental fitness is to engage in continuous learning. Every time you learn something new, the brain develops new connections, leading to improved memory and cognition. On the other hand, if you stop learning, your brain becomes less active and the cells start losing their function. So, you need to give your brain a good workout regularly if you want to keep your mind sharp.
Education and work experience play a decisive role in securing a good job. You have far better chances of getting hired if you have a degree or certification in the field you want to work. But that doesn’t mean your learning journey ends once you’ve landed a job. If you want to move up the career ladder, gaining new skills and abilities is a must.
Apart from securing their current position, employees who are committed to expanding their knowledge and taking a proactive approach to improving themselves are also more likely to be considered for advancement than those who are complacent. And even if they lose their job for some reason, their pro-growth mindset will make them more attractive to employers, thus increasing their chances of finding a new job.
The takeaway here is that not all learning is confined to the classroom. It’s something that happens on a daily basis and we can use that to our advantage. Once you realize that continuous learning is a superpower, you can become a conscious lifelong learner and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
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