Summer’s in the air, schools are letting out, and many of us are stringing together maximum vacation days to soak in some Vitamin D.
But for summer-ready collegiates, recent grads, and already trying-to-adult employees, learning shouldn’t stop when the school doors close behind us.
Why I subscribe to being a forever learner
I’m not one to read the dictionary front to back — though my dad has — and I used to think the idea of being a “forever-learner” sounded exhausting.
I mean, ‘forever’ is a really, really long time. And to constantly be taxing yourself by learning new material? Sounds like I need a nap.
But I recently had a shift in perspective.
I consider myself a pretty positive person, one capable of growing and becoming a better human being. One book (and the scientific research and studies laid out in it) made me realize that I need to offer this opportunity to the rest of the human population, too.
Though it’s an intentional, mental effort still, I believe people can change and now I’m trying to embody that mentality.
But the shift in my mentality has also opened the door to self-identifying as a forever learner.
No longer stuck in a ‘fixed mindset,’ and rather putting effort into expanding my horizons, I’ve discovered that this learning is not as much of a conscious effort as I had once begrudged.
Life learning isn’t like sitting down with that algebra book and memorizing formulas, to state the obvious. The lessons are understanding gained from truly living. As long as we’re not passively going through the motions, we’re learning. *Cue my lightbulb moment*
So being a forever learner means I’m dreaming big and going after those goals. I’m using my fear and stepping up to the plate when an obstacle stands in the way. I’m pushing my comfort boundaries simply by living intentionally and learning from it.
And that’s more easily transitioned into picking up a few self-help books so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because adulting can be hard.
It’s even led me to explore my faith life — more than I’ve ever felt comfortable doing before — by going on a Catholic pilgrimage.
Though true change is difficult, it all comes down to an individual’s mentality — and here’s how you can change your perspective to one of growth.
How to cultivate a growth mindset
Do you want to realize your full potential?
The short of it? Identify your mindset, make plans for improvement, implement those plans, and continually stay mindful and reassess your progress until this naturally becomes the way you process the world.
It’ll help if you have time to sit down with Carol Dweck’s life-changing book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. But if you don’t, you can still get started by testing your mindset. Get a better sense of where your current thoughts put you on the spectrum, so you can grow from there.
By identifying where you currently fall on the spectrum of mindsets, you’ve taken the first step toward growth — and as in many things, shifting completely to a growth mindset takes time and deliberate practice.
Once you’ve consciously acknowledged what beliefs you currently hold true, take a day to be mindful of your internal dialogue.
Do you find that your thoughts place judgment on actions or feedback? When presented with negative feedback, do you interpret it as a chance to learn or a statement that reflects more on you as a person?
As Dweck explains, “[t]he fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judgment,” while growth mindsets are “sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better?”
Remember that by mindfully practicing a growth mindset, you’re setting yourself up to develop as a person — by embodying that you can improve, you will improve! Mindsets are a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The next and final step is to make this a habit — stay mindful of your internal dialogue, assess and reassess, and ask for help.
If your dialogue reflects judgment, that’s a greater sign of what’s probably going on inside your head, too.
No matter the area of life in which you hope to improve, a growth mindset will open the doors to get you there. Learning shouldn’t stop when you turn in your last final. Life is the real test — are you going to live intentionally and be the best human you can?