• Jenna Blackwood

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.”

Meeting new people can help you level up and transform your life, but it rarely happens by accident. You need to put yourself in a position to meet and build relationships with others.

Attend networking and social events and industry conferences, engage with people on social media, or invite someone from a different department in your firm to lunch. If you want to meet new people, sometimes you’ll have to take the initiative, so strike up a conversation, look for common ground and ask questions. You may be nervous at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.

Think outside the box

It’s easy to limit our reading, listening and networking to people and topics we’re already familiar with, but to really learn and grow, you need to stretch yourself. Find new voices that can help you think about what is going on in the world beyond your own experience and industry. Listen to different perspectives that challenge your assumptions.

It may be more comfortable to surround ourselves with thoughts and ideas that we already agree with, but that level of comfort can stall the learning and innovation that expands your career.

Making learning a priority in our busy lives can be challenging, but make it a priority. With daily practice, you’ll cultivate a mind that is ready to expand, grow and share your knowledge with others.

Do you have the skills to manage yourself, your clients and your team?

The Boomer P3 Leadership Academy trains emerging leaders in CPA firms to perform at a higher level. Register now and one of our Solutions Advisors will reach out to schedule a short call to discuss your needs.

As a Solutions Advisor for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jenna is passionate about strengthening client relationships. Her primary focus is on consulting services, including the Business Transformation Playbook, Strategic Planning, the Envision Process, Client Advisory Services, Lean Six Sigma for CPA Firms and Technology Consulting.

Before joining Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jenna owned a home health agency for three and a half years.