How to become a Self-Learner?
Practical pointers to enhance your learning skills
Do you enjoy learning? Do you want to grow professionally? Or you want to grow as a person, pursue your hobbies and learn for fun?
They say you must be a life-long learner. Learning is not limited to professional growth. I feel, learning is everywhere. We have to acknowledge the fact that we can literally learn anything we want if we challenge our biases, keep an open mind and broaden our horizons. So here are a few suggestions and useful resources on ‘How to learn almost anything?’ coming from the experience of practicing a decade long self-learning on diverse topics not limited to my education or profession.
On the Mindset of Self-learning:
Consume a LOT of Content: More you consume content, more exposure you get. It fuels our curiosity. We need to keep our eyes open and train the brain in a way that we find content in everything. Quite literally. Content is not just in digital format. It is hidden in your conversations, books you read, people you meet etc.
Observation and Questioning: Becoming a keen observer helps to pick up threads from the content you consume. By questioning I mean being skeptic, more questions you ask, more clarity you get. Sometimes we should ask questions without being a critic, sometimes we need to ask questions just to find answers but sometimes we ask questions to arrive at more beautiful questions.
Learning from Experiences: As adult learners, it is quite difficult to find a school that designs learning experiences for us but it is possible to design a learning experience for ourselves. Doesn’t matter what kind of experience we go through, learning is hidden behind a 5–10 min reflection exercise.
Create a Knowledge Library for yourself: Treating pieces of information as knowledge, changing our perspective towards information and entertainment can help to gain more knowledge. Building a knowledge library is not difficult at all. You already have experiences, books, courses, degrees, you are reading blogs, watching videos and browsing every now and then. Bookmark them!
Taking a Course on a Random Topic: Even if the topic looks irrelevant, even if you feel that you are not going to use that knowledge anytime in life, even if you are highly educated and are experienced in your domain, it’s ok to take online or offline courses. We live in the world where people are putting so much effort into creating courses just that they can make their knowledge and skills and sometimes their mindset accessible to everyone. You will never believe in what great ways you can use that knowledge or skill later.
It’s OK to Spend Money on Learning: This is the most important mindset that we need to inculcate. Not everything comes for free. Though people have made great amount of information available for free, there is a lot of value hiding behind pay walls. If you are genuinely interested in the topic, don’t hesitate to spend those 500, 1000 or 5000 bucks and learn it. Trust your gut and take a step.
On Tools and Resources of Self-Learning:
YouTube: Yes, that’s my favourite free tool to learn anything and everything but there are more.
Medium: It’s a platform where people from different walks of life write about their domains of expertise. On Medium, you will not just find content writers but there are a number of experts writing about topics like education, society, art, design, entrepreneurship etc. Similarly, you can join online forums relevant to your domains.
Skillshare: It is a platform where experts from different creative disciplines publish courses. I find it better than Udemy because you don’t have to pay per course here. A year-long subscription of Skillshare costs approx. Rs. 2000/- and believe me, this is the investment you need to grow as a professional and pursue your hobbies.
Social Media: People are definitely posting educational content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. It’s best to take some time out, customise the feed according to your interest and make your social media a learning platform for you.
Simply putting, self-learning doesn’t cost much money but it costs time and effort. If you seriously want to become the person that you always dreamed of becoming, physical and digital world is a university for you!
Stay Curious and Happy Learning! :)