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Chapter 2. Planning for Lifelong Learnin... > Are you willing to make learning a p...

Are you willing to make learning a priority?

Many people find that they are filled with good intentions about being a lifelong learner, but they never seem to get around to it. Interesting ideas and opportunities cross their path, but they always seem to be too late for registration, or they can’t find the time to use the self-study cassettes they ordered. If learning is to be a priority, you must treat it like one. The following steps will help you get started.

  1. Set some learning goals. Think about those things that you would like to know more about or be better at. Write your goals down. Define what you want to learn by when.

  2. Explore available resources. Who teaches what you want to learn? What materials are within your reach? Self-study courses? Websites devoted to the topic? Many times these questions can be answered over the telephone or at the local library.

  3. Include learning in your daily activities. If you typically don’t plan your day, now is a good time to start. Set aside 10 minutes in the morning or the evening before bed to think about what you would like to accomplish in the next day, including items related to your learning goals and self-improvement. Make a “to do” list that includes specific learning activities.

  4. Decide when you will set aside time to learn on a regular basis. Thesecret to successful learning is consistent effort. Practicing a skill 30 minutes a day, almost every day, is much more effective than cramming for several hours on the weekend now and then.

  5. Take inventory of the materials and books that you already own. Many of us are surrounded by unread books, cassettes we didn’t listen to, half-started projects that we never took time to complete. You don’t always have to spend more money to get started on lifelong learning. Often the materials you need are already on hand. A tremendous resource is the public library where books, magazines, tapes, and Internet access are available at no cost.

  6. Set your goals high enough to challenge, but not so high that they frustrate you. Tasks that are either too easy or too hard tend to discourage learners. To stay motivated, strive for goals that are possible but not pushovers.

  7. Set “mini-goals” along the way. If your goal is to be fluent in Spanish in five years, set a short-term goal of being able to order dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Spanish by the end of the month. Set an intermediate goal of being able to understand part of a Spanish language newscast by the end of the year. If you achieve your short-term goals, you will be on your way to achieving your long-term goal.



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