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Lifelong Learning is Essential for Success! defines "lifelong learning" as: "the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfillment." To summarize, lifelong learning is being open to new experiences and continuing to grow and develop through these experiences.

As the definition states, lifelong learning is accomplished through formal education settings, but we focus on becoming a lifelong learner through self-education and personal development. Lifelong learning allows individuals to tap into their childlike curiosity and has many mental and physical health benefits. Continued education leads to improved interpersonal and professional skills; it can build self-confidence and improve motivation. Developing new skills, acquiring new knowledge, and utilizing new technologies are all examples of lifelong learning that can enhance your professional career.

Lifelong learning begins by defining your interests or goals. Is there a new skill you want to learn for your job? Or have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument? Make a list of these personal interests and be specific! The more specific you make a goal, the easier it is to accomplish. Then begin researching classes you can take, books you can read, or experts you can call, or schedule an appointment with a coach and make a plan together. Most importantly, you need to carve out time for the learning to take place and make the commitment. If you don’t make the time, you won’t accomplish your objective.

Finally, while lifelong learning is a noble goal, just as necessary is learning retention. If you are committed to doing the work, don’t forget to step back and process what you have learned. How can you take this new knowledge and act on it rather than just have new information at your disposal? Practice the new skill and make it part of your routine. Retaining and using the knowledge that you have worked hard to learn is key to becoming a lifelong learner. Take the time to practice what you’ve learned and make it part of your routine.

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