Every year around this time, I start to crave school supplies. The back-to-school commercials that made me wince as a child now fill me with optimism and the never-ending desire to learn. My college days at UAB may be far behind me (Go Blazers!), but I am still learning. We all are. Or, we could be.
It’s never too late to learn something new. With online learning and continuing education programs, you can study anything you want, anytime you want. But you have to make it a priority. If you were starting back to school right now, what would you study?
Here are a few ways to motivate yourself into a lifetime of learning. And here are all the “classes” I plan on taking personally in the upcoming months.
1. Think about what you wanted to be when you were a kid.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer. Then I wanted to be a fashion editor or a buyer for a major department store. My senior year in high school, my best friend talked me into taking a drama class, and then I wanted to be an actor.
I went on to major in theatre in college. I had a few successes over the years and appeared in several indie films and theatrical productions. But then I got burnt out on the audition and business side of acting, and I lost my passion. I hated the fact that my success as an actor depended on someone else giving me a part. I wanted to create my own success.
That’s when I started Stylaphile. Now, I’m a blogger, a publisher, and a freelance writer. And I’ve finally returned to my original love, which has always been fashion.
Class I’m Taking
For the longest time, I’ve wanted to learn to sew. Last week, I signed up for a Beginner’s Sewing Class at Mood Fabrics here in New York City. (If you watch Project Runway, you’re very familiar with Mood.) For six weeks beginning September 14th, I’ll be learning the basics of sewing.
Am I embarrassed by the fact that I don’t know how to sew and that I’ll probably be the oldest person in the class? Hell, yes! Am I going to let that stop me? Hell, no!
2. What could you learn that would make you better at your current job?
Whatever your current job, be it your dream job or just a stepping stone to your dream job, you could probably do it better.
Technology changes at the speed of light and automation is replacing humans at a rapid pace. The only way to maintain some type of job security is to constantly be improving your technology skills. With all the online learning platforms available today, you have absolutely no excuse not to be an expert in any application you use on a daily basis, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
Maybe you want to learn how to start your own blog or website, like I did. You can study things like WordPress, HTML programming, and Adobe Creative Suite. Whatever you can think of, there are probably classes available on Lynda.com or Skillshare. Check them out, make a list of the classes you’re interested in, and get started.
Class I’m Taking
I want to create a digital magazine for Stylaphile, so this fall, I’ll be taking a series of Adobe InDesign courses. I also want to become a better writer, so once a week, I plan to complete one or two Creative Writing classes on SkillShare.
A SkillShare monthly subscription is $15 for unlimited classes and Lynda.com starts at $20 per month. When you think about the promotions and opportunities you’ll have in the future as a result of your newly acquired expertise, I think you’ll agree that it is money very well spent.
3. What are your hobbies and passions?
Have you always wanted to learn to draw? Or paint? Or play the guitar? Perhaps you want to become a makeup artist or just get really good at doing your own makeup. Maybe you’re traveling to a foreign country and you want to learn to speak the language.
Whatever your passion, you can pursue it online or as part of a continuing education program at your local college. You can even just watch videos on YouTube or download Babbel and learn to speak as many different languages as you want.
Don’t put off pursuing your passion because you think you don’t have time or you feel it’s frivolous. If you don’t do it now, you’ll wake up one day in the future filled with regrets. Life is short. And you only get one shot. Do the things that set your soul on fire.
Class I’m Taking
I have wanted to learn to speak both French and Spanish for decades. Last year, I promised the manfriend’s grandmother that I would learn Spanish so we could carry on a conversation.
The manfriend is bilingual. His parents are bilingual. I live in New York, where basically everyone is bilingual. I have absolutely no excuse to not learn another language. So I’ve downloaded Babbel and am currently learning Spanish. Once I’ve mastered that, I’ll move on to French, and then I’ll be tri-lingual!
Start to think of continuing education the same way you think of physical fitness. You should exercise your mind the same way you exercise your body. Go back to school – from the comfort of your laptop or tablet. Choose a set of courses for yourself every semester and then schedule time throughout your week to complete those courses.
The best part about continuous, self-motivated learning? You can never fail.
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