How to be a Lifelong Learner

Every once in a while, different publications compile advice from high-profile CEOs or self-made millionaires. One trait that seems to be common among all of these successful professionals is that they make it a point never to stop learning.

For some people, being a lifelong learner is as natural as breathing, others lose the habit once they’re out of college. Either way, learning new things is a habit that anyone can develop, and everyone should.

There are a lot of reasons to strive for lifelong learning:

  • Foster creativity

  • Improve your ability to think critically and strategically

  • Develop leadership skills

  • Improved communication

  • More quality conversations

  • Better collaboration

  • Higher engagement in your work and other endeavors

So how can you develop the skills to become a lifelong learner? Here are four ideas.

Read every day

Part of the culture at Boomer Consulting, Inc. is a concept called the “First 15.” This means we spend the first 15 minutes of our workday reading personal development or business-related materials. Carving out this time at the beginning of every day ensures it happens; if we try pushing it off to the middle or end of the day, meetings, urgent tasks and emails are sure to crowd it out. Not only does spending this time reading help us learn and grow as professionals, but it also sets the tone for the rest of the day.

The Boomer team regularly shares impactful books, so I use those recommendations to keep a running list of all of the great books I want to read. Whether you keep a list in a paper planner, on your phone, use an app like Goodreads, or add new books you discover to an Amazon wishlist, keep a running list of books you’re interested in and set aside time each day to read them.

Besides books, audiobooks and podcasts are excellent ways to absorb new information. Everything you read or listen to will provide new information, and the more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenges that work and life throw at you.

Master a new skill

Mastering new skills is crucial in today’s business environment. No matter how smart you are, you should constantly look for ways to stretch yourself.

What skill should you pursue? Of course, it depends on your current role and your goals for the future. Some ideas you might consider include:

  • public speaking

  • engaging on social media

  • analyzing data

  • managing time

  • delegating responsibility

  • coaching others

  • managing projects

  • gathering research

  • using a new software program or technology

Once you’ve identified the skill you want to master, it’s also important to know how you learn best. Some people can learn by reading a textbook, while others prefer demonstrations or hands-on experience.

Now, look for resources to help you develop this skill. You might read a book, take an in-person class, find a mentor in your firm or the industry, take an online course through Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning or Coursera.

Mastering a new skill takes time, so break your learning into manageable goals and make time to practice so you’ll be better equipped to stay committed and hold yourself accountable.

Meet new people

One of Gary Boomer’s favorite quotes is from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones:

“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”