Learning is a Lifelong Process

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A recent student noted two important facts:
● 44% of millennials expect to change jobs with the next 12 months,
● 25% are worried that their current skill set might not be valuable to their next employer.

This has vast implications – for everyone. For Millennials and other young workers, faced with changes in the market (e.g., decline of traditional stored-retail, growth of artificial intelligence, and changes defining the “virtual-sharing” economies people in the current workforce), learning for new careers is something that can be done on an ongoing both through physical and online educational programs. For mature adults, thinking about retirement, often gives creates the opportunity to change jobs/careers and often pursue passionate “encore” jobs. Entrepreneurship is an option for all – -and it’s unlikely to be something learned in the traditional work settings. (Interestingly, the Kauffmann Foundation’s research reports that more mature adults are turning to entrepreneurship than Millennials.)

The key to being a lifelong learner, is to:
● Never stop learning, even if you graduated from kindergarten (☺). Be curious, Ask questions, maintain a thirst for knowledge. Don’t settle for what you have – strive to learn more.
● Never stop growing. Learning is the food for personal growth.

The study did not address the next big issue: what does this mean for Gen Y and Gen Z, who are going to live the “elongated life” – where they can expect to live to 100+ and don’t think about “retirement” as a developmental stage that takes place in their final third of life?

Today, we’re learning that to re-think the outdated 20th century developmental life-plan of:
● Spending the first 20+ years developing an identify and getting an education,
● Building a family and raising children while working for 30+ years in a few jobs/careers
● Retiring from work around 65 to enjoy a few “golden years”.
Most mature adults are discarding the “65-means-retire” rule, knowing they will live much longer and want a fulfilling life for 30+ more years. They can continue at their current job, start new jobs/careers (often as entrepreneurs!), volunteer while traveling, enjoying relationships and enjoying life’s wonders – whatever they want. For some, new skills are needed and lifelong learners are seeking out appropriate educational facilities (online and physical). The opportunity to service them well is enormous.

The real challenge is helping our grandchildren adopt a different life-plan: believe from the beginning that you will live the “elongated life” – to 100+ and should integrate learning into every phase of life. To equip yourself for the (say) five-ten careers you may have you will need to learn throughout life – not just in formal schools or online, but also through travel, living with people from different cultures, and understanding how to adapt to the changes that will affect us in the next few years. Lifelong learning means integrating learning into our daily activities throughout our lives

We need to learn what to expect and how to address the challenges before they appear. For instance, we hear about a world with driverless cars and planes. What changes will they create in how we protect people not just technologically but legally. A world where people can age-at-home – because sensors and communication systems will make it easy for people to monitor vital signs, get help without leaving the house, protect lives and save health care costs. Yet, older people living along already report feeling isolated – will such technology exacerbate it? So much to learn about.

Nourishing ourselves daily, through food, people and learning is the framework that future generations need to adopt for living fulfilling elongated lives. Are we up to the challenge? Share your thoughts.