Many people think that going back to school, taking classes, and continuing education are only important when you’re considering switching to a new career field or starting a project in a field that’s unfamiliar to you. There are many other cases where continuing education, such as taking classes on a new software program, learning a new language, or discovering the best practices of a different field can pay off. This article examines some situations that may call for continuing education, as well as a few avenues to help you keep learning without asking a huge investment.
However, the idea of continuing education can also cause dread among professionals. Continuing education and learning new skills takes time and effort. It’s an investment that can be difficult to step into when the returns aren’t certain.
Free tutorials, videos, and even full courses offered online can decrease the high stakes aspect of the monetary investment. Similarly, more local venues might offer public resources, such as public lectures and library resources.
There are a number of reasons to hold yourself back when it comes to learning something new. Rather than arguing this to yourself, it can be easy to turn one’s back on your ambitions. It could also mean stymying a career path, experience, or source of inspiration and innovation which would help develop our projects.
Here are a few times when it’s a good idea to give your continuing education dreams a go:
You’re in a Rut
It’s common for entrepreneurs to have a project in mind. You might have some sort of grand picture that you want to accomplish without a real understanding or plan of how to get there. Not everyone will have the capital right at the start to hire the right talent and consultants to help them understand the steps to realize that vision. In some cases, it’s necessary for you as an entrepreneur to learn and find the steps to realize your own vision.
Life-long learning not helps individuals to learn new skills, but it also stimulates innovation, creativity, and inspiration. Just learning one new skill can help to open the mind to a different way of thinking.
Continuing education can help to shake you out of a creative rut, or get your own resources working on solving problems and obstacles. The more you know about your project methods, the easier it will be to break your projects down into goals and start working toward them. Some of the best continuing education paths in this case are free classes, or online self-structured courses.
Software in Your Field is Advancing
Every career and field has go-to software for workflow and development. Professionals in your industry will be advancing software all the time. Alternately, you might choose to upgrade your software to something that is stronger and more industry-standard. Or, in some cases, another tool will arrive in the field that disrupts the workflow as usual. This kind of advancement can open new opportunities for you, but it also means that you must get to know this new software and try your hand at what you can do with it.
In some cases, you can do this on your own by taking time to explore the options available to you. Many, however, find it useful to attend a class or workshop to learn how to unlock the potential of new tools. In this case, classes can offer you more efficient directions for your workflow, as well as alternate ways of using your tools, and an outsider’s perspective. All these things will aid your inspiration and innovation with opportunities to brainstorm, bounce ideas, and try new tools and methods.
You’re Working Globally
Digital startups often operate in a global workplace. Even working locally, communication and misunderstandings are a major cause of inefficiency, as they are liable to experience slow development and stymy innovation. Language learning is one of the most important parts of modern global industries, and unlike many other skills that you may be working on, it’s difficult to learn languages alone.
Language classes can not only open employability options for you, but they can also help you win the trust and respect of future partners. And just like learning any other skill, language learning is a veritable fountain of inspiration, as you learn about how other cultures think and communicate.
You Need to Switch Tracks
Entrepreneurial development can often be a mirror of personal development. The projects that you can start, spearhead, and work toward are going to be based off of the skills that are in your wheelhouse or those of your partners. And, because ambition is an important part of this equation, the things that you want to do, either creatively or professionally, might be outside what you need to know.
Continuing education is among the best ways to groom yourself to switch tracks. There’s a lot that you can do alone to build on the skills that you’ve already developed, but switching tracks completely takes a massive effort of dedication and accountability. If you’re planning on learning something entirely outside of your field, it can be a huge favor to yourself to commit to enrolling in a few classes with set dates, assignments, achievement feedback, and peers. This will lessen the temptation to drop the whole thing and continue operating on what you already know.
It’s Time to Hit the Books
Successful entrepreneurs are notorious for their reading habits. Most of them read bookshelves full of non-fiction every year in addition to daily news, and industry news. While no one has been able to put their finger on the perfect one-to-one correlation between reading and success, there is little doubt that learning new information in this way, processing it, and giving yourself time to react while developing thoughts and ideas is extremely helpful to developing your problem-solving skills, personal inspiration, and personal development.
Reading teaches you about two things at once: 1) Whatever it is you’re reading about, and 2) Yourself. This means that reading even non-fiction opens you up to understanding some of your own drives and desires. This is, of course, above and beyond teaching you the information and storytelling processes that are included in the book.
Picking a book and integrating reading into your daily routine is an important first step toward everything else that is involved in personal development and learning new skills. It is also among the least expensive steps that you can take toward learning something different and widening your understanding of a field, historical development, region, cultural and social geography, or any other technical part of your development experience. Entrepreneurs who don’t give themselves time to read may be shooting themselves in the foot. To get started, give yourself 15 dedicated minutes a day and see what you can get under your belt in even that time.
Some professionals find continuing education to be a daunting idea. There are many venues to learning, and those are ever increasing due to the accessibility of the Internet, but the number one demand that continuing education makes on you is your time and commitment. For people who are constantly juggling their commitments, including, for some, a day job and side project, the idea of spending your time to learn something new can be one of the most draining prospects. It’s important to remind yourself that continuing education isn’t just about learning a new skill, it’s also an opportunity to expand what you know, breathe some fresh air onto your ideas, and gather inspiration for future development.