There are few more motivating factors to learn a new skill than the demands of today’s economic climate. But going further than looking for that perfect job, Boomers need to keep learning for other reasons, too.
Here’s why you should never stop learning, no matter what stage of life you’re in:
1. Relevance. Even if you are settled wherever you are in life, it’s vital to stay on top of current trends and movements. We live in a culture where technology changes constantly. You don’t want to be the only one in the room at a dinner party who can’t follow the conversation. Also, should you decide to re-enter an industry or market after a prolonged absence, you don’t want your skill set to look like something out of a museum.
2. Connecting with other people. It’s no longer an exaggeration: Robots are taking over. Jobs that used to be in the charge of humans are being delegated to sophisticated software; and those technologies are only going to get smarter and more efficient. The human connection is about to be more powerful than ever before. By learning new skills, you can fill in the gaps that robots will leave in their wake.
3. Stress relief. We all need a breather every now and then. Take a class on, say, jQuery, and find yourself with an even more fulfilling escape from your daily routine. Much like exercise, doing something markedly different from work makes us access different parts of our brains, giving the other sections—the sections we use the most—a well-deserved rest. Yes, an “extra-curricular activity” can be just as stressful. But it’s more about putting energy towards something besides your job.
4. Retrain your brain. It’s essential to keep your brain fresh. Hundreds of mobile applications are designed to keep your mind fit and healthy. But those apps cannot compare to learning a completely new activity. Take your noggin to boot camp, instead of a gym.
5. Self-reward. Remember when you first mastered riding a bike? Remember how you felt when the person holding your seat let go and you didn’t fall over? That feeling is the driving force behind learning and innovation. It is the greatest feeling in the world. Learning a new skill can be a lot of headache; but when it all clicks together, we know it was worth every pain. Find something that interests you and go for it. Chase that feeling.
Convinced you want to learn something new? Here are a few places to start:
Noble Desktop – Based in NYC, this organization offers online classes that are on the cutting edge of what’s hot in online media. If it’s not being used, they don’t teach it. Take advantage of their online (free) seminars to get an idea of what’s out there.
Skillshare – If you want to learn things a little outside the norm, this is where to do it. The thing we like most about Skillshare is its project-oriented teaching style (in lieu of trying to teach a big generalized modality.)
Dabbler – An ambitious project from NYC-based Brooklyn Brainery, Dabbler is a subscription-based newsletter that promises “one new hobby, every month.” For $2/month, the service will send everything that you need in an email to learn a wide range of subjects, from HTML to winemaking and all things in between.
Where do YOU turn when you want to learn a new skill?
Amy Blitchok says
This is a great list of resources. I thought I would add some other great options that are available for free to young and old alike. Encore.org focuses on helping seniors find new careers or simply learn skills that will keep them mentally engaged. There are also a long list of organizations that offer Massive Open Online Courses for free including: Coursera.org, Udacity, edX and many more. If you want to learn more, you can check out this article: http://www.modern-senior.com/school-free/