I have recently embarked on some new learning – I have signed up to an online academy to deepen my knowledge of human behaviour through the topics of psychology and counselling. My objective is to achieve a diploma once I have completed the course content. So it’s back to studying textbooks and submitting assignments – something I haven’t done for well over 30 years!
I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying the process – such a different experience from ‘way back when’. I am fully engaged in the course material, and I’m finding that my many years of reading a large range of books and literature on related topics, coupled with so many different life experiences have equipped me well to be able to respond to the course material. I am surprised and delighted by knowing more than I gave myself credit for, reminding me that we absorb and learn much more by experience than just reading alone… The study is giving me a framework and ‘technical jargon’ for some of the theories presented that I am recognising from observing my own life.
My delight in the learning process has been re-ignited, and I have discovered that the mental challenge and stimulation is highly rewarding in itself. I’d actually forgotten how competitive I was with myself too – that no longer is good enough, good enough (in terms of grades achieved); I want to excel to the best of my ability.
So what’s going on? The biggest difference I can see (from when I was at school) is that the topics are ones that light me up – I am invigorated by the learning process itself. I want to learn, to go deeper into each topic, and to draw upon my life experiences to illustrate understanding or to provide examples of particular situations. And because it is all about understanding why we behave as we do – and how to successfully change our behaviour when our values, beliefs and/or environmental influences are not serving us – it has so many practical benefits; not just for me, but also for the coaching and volunteering work I do.
So why am I relating all this? The lesson for me is that if we stop learning, that we risk stagnating, maybe even becoming less relevant – invisible… That just because we may have ‘retired’, or reached a certain age; there is no rule book or time-limit that says: OK that’s it – time to get out the deck chair and cruise for the rest of your life… My studies dovetail perfectly into life itself. All my interactions with people, my relationships etc. all involve aspects of behaviour. Coming into contact with people who might be dealing with mental illnesses, melancholy or just feeling a little blue – being able to respond more compassionately and with kindness to the plight of others – and to myself when necessary!
One of my key areas in my own Life Plan, (a series of note books which remind me what inspires me and gives me joy in the key areas of my life), is Discovery and Learning. For me I need to keep exploring, being curious – and especially in the topics that interest me most. I had been neglecting this area of my life these last couple of years – and I was reminded while on holiday recently, so much so that I felt compelled to embark on this field of study. It has been the best thing I’ve done for a while in terms of renewing my spark!
If you want some help to ignite the spark in your life, give me a call!