Do you love to learn? Even though you finished your degree and are proficient in your field, do you still find yourself searching for new information?
Years ago when I finished college, I had a hole – a big black void that I used to fill with homework, writing papers, and studying for exams. That sounds ridiculous right? When you’re in school, the one thing you can’t wait for is to finally be done!
At around this same time, my responsibilities at work began to escalate and I began to fill that “learning” void by reading lots of books about how to be a better working professional . I picked up ones about management, leadership, sales, text message marketing, and many others (go to my “Books” section to browse a few of the titles).
Continuing my education in this fashion felt like a very natural way to further my quest for knowledge.
What Was I Actually Accomplishing?
This seemed to be a sufficient strategy until one day when I was talking with one of my superiors. I mentioned some of the books I had been reading and he then posed a very simple question:
• What results have you gotten out of what you’re doing?
Naturally, I was a bit defensive. I began to declare all the theories I had learned and how I planned to apply them. But then I realized my error.
Had I become more concerned about “the act of learning” rather than actually creating results? Was I actually “applying” anything I had learned?
Running on a Treadmill:
If I asked you why you went to college, you’d say because you wanted to get a job. If I asked you why you went to get a Masters degree or special certification, you’ say because you wanted to advance your career or get paid more.
Although the “are you getting any results” question was directed at whether or not I was making things better at work, I began to interpret it in regards to a broader scope of things. What were ANY of my efforts actually resulting in? Would getting another degree translate into more pay? Would taking on more projects result in a promotion? Would you be a more fulfilled person?
I began to realize that my efforts were only so limited, and that perhaps I needed to look at the big picture before blindly engaging in any new activity. I didn’t want to just be running in place.
Turning Ideas Into Something Tangible:
In many ways, this blog is a testament to that question.
It’s okay to read books about retirement, stocks, investing, etc. But if you don’t ever try to practice these strategies or put forth your efforts, then what are you actually doing?
Among the personal finance books I’ve read, I began to notice a re-occurring theme: “You need to start some type of side business through creating passive income”. This meant any combination of investing, collecting real estate, starting a business, or making money on the Internet.
Rather than reading about other people getting rich, I decided I would actually try the whole blog thing for myself. I knew I wouldn’t make millions overnight (and am still far from it), but I knew I’d never make a dime if I didn’t try something! This blog “is” my result.
Readers: Are you getting anything out of learning, or do you just love to learn? Do you feel there is any benefit to going on to get advanced degrees or certifications? What results have you feel you have accomplished through your efforts?
3) Let Curiosity Guide You, But Common Sense Protect You
Photo Credit: Park Lafayette by compujermey, on Flickr
Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think says
I think learning is fun. The problem is I sometimes spend too much time learning instead of doing. It’s also easy to take in so much information you get overwhelmed by it all and become unable to make a decision on what you should do first. But even if you learn 1,000 different things and only implement 10 of them, you can still do all right for yourself.
I agree! And it’s those 10 things that I’m really going to start focusing on.
I don’t know if I agree with you. Why does learning have to be about results? Now I understand that if your boss had told you that you needed to increase your performance, then I would understand looking for results, but what is wrong with learning for the sake of curiosity and fascination? Looking at the world with a sense of childlike wonder?
Performance and results are only important if you make them important, I understand needing to succeed at work but it is a gross generalization to say that the only reason people go to college is for jobs, or the only reason people go back to school is for more money/a promotion. I do think that there are people who just learn because they love to learn. My time spent learning about theoretical space travel, world religions, World War II, and the culture of Mongolia, doesn’t necessarily APPLY to my career or give me real results in the form of a bigger paycheck. But is that important to me? No, I think that learning for the sake of learning is a perfectly just past time and increases the quality of my life.
So I agree with you and I don’t agree with you (if that makes sense), if you want success at a particular endeavor I totally agree that you have to apply RELEVANT information. But I think that promoting curiosity and having a fun time with learning are just as much “results,” as an increased paycheck or a promotion.
I don’t think that Universities are a pre-req for all areas of learning. But for myself (although I will say I am only in my first year of college,) I am very interested in Physics, and there are some pretty esoteric concepts (in Quantum Mechanics and such) that I think would be very difficult to understand on your own, and trust me, I’ve tried to self study Physics, and its TOUGH.
Believe me – I am not downplaying having a hobby or taking up an interest. My years of guitar playing have certainly not made me an richer. Nor do I down-play college. I have two degrees myself and took plenty classes that had nothing to do with them – simply because I was interested in the subject matter.
Remember that the idea here is that time is finite. Once you have a job, kids, and bills to pay, you begin to really feel how true this is. So if we accept that time is limited, the question is what do you want to do with it? Do you want to read articles about successful people or be one? Do you want to hear about how others got rich or try it for yourself? It’s okay to learn about these things and study them before you try, but at some point you have to step up to bat. Otherwise you’re never truly playing the game.
But you do hit on a very fundamental and important point – your priorities. If money or a career is not important, than none of this will really matter. If learning is truly your passion, then so be it.
Haha I think that we are in agreement! Success is not a priority for me, or rather, success isn’t necessarily out-competing someone or something. Success to me is being a happy and being kind. In the pursuit of that, only learning relevant material isn’t important, but I know what you mean.
If I wanted to be successful at something, its not only about learning all you can about it, but USING what you learned.
I hope you can attain your success while perfecting your guitar skills!
Let me revise what I said-
You said that our time was limited so we have to figure out our priorities. My priorities (at this point in my life) are being kind, being happy, meditation, and I want to contribute something to Theoretical Physics. As far as this goes, I read lots of books about meditation and what makes people happy and things like that. Then, I employ it in my own life!
So we are talking about the EXACT same thing, our priorities are just a bit different.
Anyways, thanks for replying to my rambling.
I agree with Shawanda. I enjoy learning because I feel like I’m growing with every new article or book I read. Some day I want to get a Master’s degree, but as you say it’s important to consider what results I would get out of it. It’s not worthwhile if I’m not able to convert my efforts and time spent getting the degree into something tangible.
I’m willing to bet that Masters Degree is going to be worth it. I would have never imagined that mine would lead to promotions, pay raises, profit sharing, etc.
Daisy @ Add Vodka says
I like to learn but I also like getting something from it – wallowing in ignorance is not my style so if I can learn something I’ll try to do so.
I’ve been trying to do the same. I’ve started to really try to implement the advice I read (and evaluate if I really believe in it)
Carrie Smith says
That’s a really inspiring story! I have a lot of respect for people who not only say something, but actually follow through and do it. I am always striving to turn my learning into results. My blog was also actually an “impulse” decision (I had no idea what I was in for..lol) because I wanted to take all my studying/learning, and turn it into something great.
I’d say your impulse has paid off! You’ve got a great site!
Modest Money says
In my line of work I have no choice but to keep learning. With website marketing if you stop learning, you quickly become outdated and unemployable. I find that I’m learning way more about finance since I started blogging. I admit that a lot of that information doesn’t get put to use, but I do feel that it will all help my decision making when I do get faced with that kind of stuff. It has changed how I think about my daily spending anyway.
That would frustrate me! It seems like the second you’d learn something, it would already be obsolete. Don’t take a day off or else! 🙂
Justin @ The Family Finances says
I’m one of those that just loves learning for the sake of learning. However, earning my MBA did earn me a nice raise at work and puts me in line for promotions in the future. I think learning about new things and learning more about old things is a reward in itself, but it can also make a difference at work or at home by discovering new or better ways of doing things.
Well said, and nice work on the MBA! That’s a good example of a direct (and probably some eventual indirect) benefits of getting a graduate degree.
Tackling Our Debt says
Whether for personal use or business, on-going learning is essential. When people stop learning they stop growing. As mentioned, the key is to take what you have learned and implement it in some positive way.
“When people stop learning they stop growing.” – That’s a great way to put it!
Alik Levin says
I look at learning as means to achieving something. There is formal learning (school, college) and self learning. I view on formal learning as this:
* First degree – i prove i am worthy, vital when getting my first job
* Second degree – i am already accomplished, need to expand my network.
Said that, formal learning is less about knowledge in my view.
Self learning is about actually growing skills that are in demand – be it soft skills like influence w/o authority (you don’t learn it in school) or tech skills such as cloud computing related (neither taught at schools in adequate level).
I like how Mark Twain put it: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”
That’s a very good point. There is a lot of difference between what we learn in school and what we learn by ourselves. To some degree we challenge ourselves in both situations. But the ways we go about it and what we get out of them are different. Your idea of Self Learning is one area where I still feel like I have a long ways to go.
Anthony Thompson says
Interesting post! Learning is not a one-time event. Contrary to what others may think, an education doesn’t end when formal education ends. Instead, it’s an ongoing process whether you’re in a degree program or not. As for me, I love reading on topics business management, sales, philosophy, wealth-building, finance, and personal growth. As the late Jim Rohn once put it, “All leaders are readers”.
Thanks! And you’re right – the education continues for as long as we endure it. Reading other blogs has been a big help in this area.
Invest It Wisely says
I love learning, and I feel like I can never learn enough. I continue to develop my coding skills even though I’m no longer in the office, and I spent some time learning Chinese. Not enough, I say! 🙂
The coding I get, but you’ve got me on the Chinese. What inspired this hobby?
Kanwal Sarai @ Simply Investing says
Great post! I enjoy learning, but most importantly I enjoy applying what I’ve learned to improve my life and the lives of others. Learning is a lifetime activity.
Thanks and welcome to the site! I use to think the learning was the hard part, but now I realize that I could practice my skills for years and only scratch the surface of what I can actually do.
Learning is a constant process like breathing, eating etc. Everything we do in life ending up with a lesson. Those street smarts observe and learn from these experiences. Books allow you to increase intensity of the learning by learning about someone else’s experience. I keep a diary to capture my lessons learned from different experiences and experiments.
Financial Recovery Services says
I just wish that I had the drive to trade all my ‘free’ time into something productive once I finished my studies in college and university, thus I’ve found myself reading books after work or during break times in order to keep up with developments.
And that’s a lot of work for the financial niche
I enjoy learning. I constantly read books, I take what I liked out of that book and I try to apply it. The only problem I sometimes have is trying to apply too much at once.
I know that feeling! Sometimes you have to scale back how much you read and take in before you try to use it in the real world.
From Shopping to Saving says
I enjoy school and I enjoy learning so I’m going back to law school to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney. I considered going for my MBA since you can consolidate the # of years it takes to get a law degree and an MBA into 4 years instead of a combined total of 5 years, however after thinking about it I don’t think that it will get the results that I want. Plus it will cost an arm and a leg to obtain that additional degree… not worth it for me!
At least you’re thinking about it before jumping in. I was very fortunate to find an employer who had tuition reimbursement for my MBA.