If you don’t have the time or resources to enroll in formal courses, self-learning can be incredibly useful for your personal development. As self-learning is neither constrained by location or a timeframe, the luxury of taking education into your own hands can be valuable for many of us.
As self-learning focuses more on the process of education rather than the outcome of the learning, there’s no unnecessary pressure to retain information within a certain time. By shifting the ultimate goal from achieving higher grades to satisfying your natural curiosity, you’ll be able to internalize information much more effectively.
Becoming an Autodidact
One of the hallmarks of being an autodidact is believing, despite what others may say, that the path you choose is just as valuable as the one that you reject. In other words, you know that there isn’t just one clear path to success and you can recognize that success comes in many different shapes and forms. When it comes to self-learning, it’s important to acknowledge that learning can be done horizontally, as well as vertically, and that the broader your knowledge is, the better person you become.
Self-learning gives you the opportunity to learn to problem solve on your own. The foundation of self-learning stems from being able to identify problems and quickly look for effective solutions. Whether you’re looking to learn from your colleagues, the internet, or by exploration, you’ve realized that there’s something you don’t know and you’re taking action to learn more about it.
By actively looking for learning solutions, instead of accepting the ones that are presented to you, any challenges or obstacles you may face won’t ruin your motivation or productivity. You have the opportunity to learn something new at your pace and on your time so you can easily adapt to any changes that may be presented to you.
According to a study conducted by the University of California, curiosity is what makes our brains more receptive for learning. By teaching yourself how to satisfy a level of curiosity, your learning journey will be more enjoyable.
As a result, the Harvard Business Review found that people who were curious in their roles at work were 34% more creative, more empathetic with others, better at communicating, and less reactive to stress and provocation.
By triggering your intrinsic curiosity, the self-learning process will prove to be more effective and enjoyable. And while the nature of self-learning can be sporadic, it’s important to recognize that leaning in a curious manner can lead you to unexpected discoveries of information, people, and paths that you may never have been exposed to otherwise.
How to Continue Learning Outside of School
Adapting non-traditional methods of learning is important when it comes to investing in your personal development. However, self-learning takes little investment outside of your time and dedication. Here are a few accessible ways that you can continue learning outside of school:
Incorporate Podcasts and Audiobooks into Your Commute
There are pockets of time throughout your day that can be dedicated to self-learning. Incorporating podcasts and audiobooks into your commute is one of the easiest (and most convenient) ways to expand your knowledge. The world of literature and podcasts is only expanding so you should have no trouble finding resources on whatever topics may interest you!
Pick up a New Hobby
When many of us think about learning, we approach it as learning about things, but it’s also important to learn how to do things as well. Picking up a new hobby gives you the ability to learn in a different way, think creatively, and spend time as a beginner. Learning from the ground up is an excellent way to stay motivated as you’ll be able to easily track your progress and enjoy your achievements.
It may be time to reconsider your nightly Netflix choices if you’re looking to commit to self-learning. Documentaries provide a relaxing way to expose yourself to history, nature, and current events without feeling too structured.
Gather Information from Academic Databases
While the internet provides us with an endless amount of information, it’s important to ensure that you’re gathering your knowledge from reliable sources. Google Scholar allows you to search for free full-text articles and books from academic publishers and universities. They also list citations that can link you to additional resources if you’re looking to learn more about a certain subject.
Self-learning stems from a personal desire to gain new knowledge. Making the decision to expand on your personal education, whether you’re just looking for new information or wanting to develop a skill for a particular purpose, is an exciting one. No matter what your motivation, it’s important to recognize that when it comes to self-learning, having a clear purpose of why you are learning and what you gain from the information is what makes your education so meaningful.