Lifelong learning doesn’t end with retirement. It may only be the beginning.
Bill Watterson, who wrote the Calvin and Hobbes comic, said, “Life is like a car battery. It recharges by running. And Henry Ford agreed, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether they are 20 or 80 years old. Anyone who continues to learn stays young. The best thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Sound advice for people who think that retiring after years of long hours and non-stop action is just a chance to relax.
“You can live your later years in a state closely resembling plant life and your brain life will respond accordingly,” said Dr. Rosalind Dorlen, a psychologist in private practice at Summit, NJ.
“You get mushy. The data shows that learning is your brain’s developmental mechanism, regardless of your age. Passively sitting and watching TV is not a way to improve your brain,” she declared.
Make lifelong learning your retirement goal
Don’t retire and then try to develop a lifelong learning plan.
Tom Vanderbilt, author of “Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning,” suggests that you start thinking long before your retirement date about how to keep the drums going.
“Don’t wait until retirement to start the process because you are still working and busy – or thinking you are busy,” he said. “It’s much better to have a plan in mind than to suddenly face this void without one.”
Part of that process, according to Clif Smith, mindfulness leader at Ernst & Young and author of “Mindfulness Without the Bells and Beads,” is developing the right attitude and understanding the drastic lifestyle change that lies ahead.
“You have to make a conscious choice about how you are going to retire, how you are going to spend your time,” he said. “How will you develop relationships to replace the social circle you had at work? “
Think about who you will be spending the most hours with. Have a plan to maintain the lifelong learning skills that work with this person. “You might be spending more time alone or with a spouse or partner,” Smith said. “And if you’re not comfortable with it now, what will happen when you retire?” “
Find a high quality education
When it comes to what is considered traditional education, the possibilities are virtually endless. Marilyn Anderson, author of How to Live Like a Millionaire When You Are Short of a Million, points out that this is a golden age for lifelong learning.
“There are about 5,000 different courses that people can take at Ivy League schools and other universities, many of which are free and in all kinds of subjects, from business to food science, religion to foreign languages, “she said.
Beyond the traditional, YouTube videos teach all kinds of skills, from pottery to how to cut hair. TED talks are also free.
Don’t completely withdraw from lifelong learning
Paul Dillon, who has started a consulting business himself, suggests another possibility. Don’t retire completely. Dillon “retired” in 2006. “I wanted to do something creative,” he said. “I always had this idea of starting my own business. So I thought I was going to give it a try.”
He had worked as a marketing and business consultant for a large financial firm and thought the transition would be easy.
This was not the case. “I tried a number of things at the start that didn’t work as well as I thought they would.” But he persisted. A client, knowing that Dillon was a Vietnam War veteran, asked him to research the problems associated with the employment of veterans. And that opened up an untapped opportunity that he now specializes in.
These opportunities are everywhere, he says. Stop thinking about myopic, he says. “If you were a marketing director for a big mainstream brand, don’t think that’s all you can do,” Dillon said. “Talk to people. Expand your horizons. Maybe you will come up with something new. “
Withdraw from the expected
Lifelong learning takes you out of your comfort zone. “Sometimes people get scared because they feel they could be bad at something like new technology. So they avoid it,” Dillon said. “But they’re kidding themselves. The human brain is a machine that searches for new things.”
If you like to learn something, it doesn’t matter if you are good at it. “It sounds obvious, but you should be doing things that make you happy. So as you practice and improve, even when you fail, you enjoy practice and failure.”
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