By 2022, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. The solution: develop a continuous learning mindset throughout your career because lifelong learning is more important than ever before.

For years you had clarity about your job role. You were smart to deal with your career relying on your work performance. But organizations now are compelled to change because of technological disruptions and varying economics. For businesses, dealing with these shifts are vital to their survival. They have to adapt quickly with the speed of change. So do you. That single degree you earned in your teens or a career you picked in your 20s will not be permanent.

Career development today is a lifelong process unique to every individual. To manage it, you need to learn how to achieve lifelong learning along with work, family life and leisure in order to advance towards a constantly-unfolding and uncertain future. Your career survival depends on how you pick up new knowledge, how you fit learning into everyday habits, and how you plan a unique career avenue for yourself.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Lifelong learning makes us less risk averse and more adaptable to change when it happens. It challenges our preconceived notions and build our self-esteem. With your life-long learning mindset you will be able to adapt to a changing employment landscape while at the same time it will keep you mentally refresh and stimulating.

In the first half of 2018, the skills in highest demand were leadership, research, communications, writing, and problem-solving. Paired with technical knowledge, these uniquely human skills will endure in the face of increased automation in the future of work. Future workers will need to combine technical and interpersonal tasks repeatedly throughout their working lives and make learning and continual skill development a way of life. The most valuable workers now and in the future will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills and adapt to the changing needs of the workplace.

Keith Keating, senior director of global learning strategies at GP Strategies Corp., in his article The Mindset of a Lifelong Learner, provides useful tips for becoming a lifelong learner:

1. Develop a Growth Mindset

Research into IQ and neuroscience shows that lifelong growth and improvement are scientifically viable. Individual internal monologues may default to fixed mindsets, however. Definitive “I can’t” or “I will never” statements are often self-fulfilling prophecies. A growth mindset, on the other hand, embraces challenges, change and critique on the way to learning goals. Accept that skill acquisition requires effort, that improvement is possible and that obstacles and others’ success are not reasons to stop your progress.

2. Take Responsibility for Your Future

Too many adults blame the educational system, their industry, the government or chance for stagnation and career struggles. When you own your decisions, actions and future results instead, you give yourself the power to make changes independent of whatever happened to you in years past or yesterday. Lifelong learners seek out opportunities for their benefit and growth because they understand they have the power and responsibility to mold their progress.

3. Discover and Follow Your Passion

If you do not have a passion for your current career position, figure out what your passion is, and then do what it takes to incorporate it into your life. The luxury to launch your own business or quit your job and become a travel photographer, for example, exists outside the realm of reality for many people. Instead, find passion where you are now. What makes your career meaningful? What rewards do you or others receive that you can feel good about? Take time to look within and find the value that you provide or can provide in your work. As a lifelong learner, personal development helps you discover not only your passion but how to incorporate it into even the most mundane jobs. You also cultivate new opportunities by learning additional skills and techniques, paving the way for possibilities in the future. Passion fuels learning more than anything.

4. Be the Linchpin

Become a company or industry linchpin that holds everything together and keeps things moving in the right direction. Instead of aiming for indispensability, make yourself invaluable. Through lifelong learning and growth, you can create a personal brand that stands for dynamic need fulfillment. Proactive skill acquisition is an essential part of the learning, doing, unlearning and learning more lifecycle.

5. Stretch Beyond Your Own (and Your Employer’s) Expectations

The feeling of career contentment the first time you land a good job is rather old-fashioned these days. Still, too many professionals focus on an end goal where they can finally say, “I’ve arrived,” prop their feet up on the desk and float toward retirement. This comfort zone gives a false sense of security, which you have to push beyond to become a lifelong learner. Contentment is the enemy of success when things change so rapidly across the majority of industries. Courting positive stress in a controlled, beneficial way by taking a class, following tutorials and practicing new skills combats the harmful stress of trying to hang on to your job or find a new one when your abilities do not match expectations. Steps outside your comfort zone can include deepening existing skills to help with future tasks, enhancing existing skills to make current tasks easier or more efficient, and genuine skill growth that can open doors to new roles and responsibilities.

About Garrison Leykam, PhD

Certified Business Coach (Expert Level)
Certified Remote Work Professional
Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC)
Certified Professional, Résumé Writer (CPRW)
Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP)
Certified Life Coach (Expert Level)
PhD Marketing, MA Psychology
LinkedIn profile in Top 25 MA, PhD profiles in U.S.
Top 1% LinkedIn Industry Social Selling Index
Author, Audacious at Any Age and Design You

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