Learning is an essential part of life. We start learning unconsciously, from the very moment we are born, really. Yet, lots of learning happens intentionally so that we can improve and become better versions of ourselves. Therefore, learning new skills is an integral part of our personal and professional development.
Regardless of whether you learn new skills formally or informally, there are many benefits that this process brings along. In this article, I explore the importance of learning new skills as well as the benefits of learning something new. Very briefly, at the end of the article, I also explore the psychological benefits of learning.
As someone who invests a lot of time and energy in learning, it has been such a pleasure writing this article. I do hope you enjoy reading it as well.
Why Is Learning New Skills Important?
In addition to being fun and engaging, there are many beneficial aspects of learning new skills. Most reasons can be grouped into emotional, psychological, and cognitive categories.
Emotional benefits refer to the feeling you get out of learning new skills. You can feel motivated, inspired or even more self-confident when you acquire new skills. From the psychological perspective, you may experience greater happiness, be less anxious and more open to new experiences. Finally, your cognitive abilities develop as you learn new skills: your reasoning may improve, your intelligence may grow, and of course, you’ll be more knowledgeable in the field you’ve chosen with your new skill.
When it comes to your professional growth, the importance of learning new skills is quite obvious. The more you know, the more valuable you are to the company. This can refer to your speciality, which comes with experience, not only hours invested in learning in the traditional sense of it. In addition to that, it can refer to a variety of skills that you acquire over time. For example, you can be very knowledgeable in your field, but also have developed communication skills or other soft skills, which will enable you to get promoted or even change companies and find a better, more fulfilling role.
How Often Should You Learn Something New?
As often as you can so long as it’s not causing you more stress or anxiety. Learning something new should be fun and challenging, not stressful. You shouldn’t feel pressured to learn something new, be it skills or any other type of learning. If you feel desire, curiosity or inspiration to learn something new, that’s the right moment to find that something and get into it.
When we’re forming new habits, then learning is going to be more frequent, on a daily basis, really. It takes a bit of time to form new habits, which is why continuous learning is so important. On the other hand, if you’re just thinking about learning something new or acquiring a new skill, you can do it monthly, quarterly or even annually. It depends on the time you have available and the need and/or desire to explore something different.
In any case, it is good to challenge your brain and keep getting out of your comfort zone. The important thing is to set the pace you’re comfortable with.
What Are the Benefits of Learning New Skills?
As already mentioned, there are numerous benefits of learning new skills. The list below presents some of the benefits I find most appealing. However, there are many more advantages of acquiring new knowledge and skills that can be added to the list.
Novelty sparks curiosity and poses challenges. Every learning experience consists of ups and downs. Some aspects of the new thing you’re trying to learn can be easy to understand and acquire while others may be more difficult and require more time, energy and effort. Nevertheless, once you conquer the new skills and actually learn something new, there comes the feeling of accomplishment. This, in turn, boosts your confidence. You feel more qualified or equipped to deal with new challenges.
Needless to say that this confidence transfers to all areas of your life. Not only will you feel more confident at work, but also at home, in relationships and your sense of self will improve.
If you engage in a new skill, you’re going to thicken the brain’s prefrontal cortex. As you develop a new skill, you’ll gain courage and confidence, which helps you override fear and anxiety. You’ll feel more empowered.Dennis Buttimer
Makes You More Adaptable
Learning process is rarely straightforward. It usually takes time, effort, and consists of many small wins and failures. It exposes you to novelty, new perspectives and it asks for persistence. Most of us learn through trial and error, which requires patience and thinking outside the box (whatever our current box is). Now, the more we do it, the more we become open to changes. The more open to changes we are, the more adaptable we become.
Being flexible and accepting of change enables us to approach new situations calmly and with curiosity rather than fear and anxiety. What is more, it enables us to detect new opportunities more often and be more willing to try them out. This is crucial for both personal and professional growth.
Doing the same thing repeatedly is monotonous and eventually leads to boredom. Learning new skills breaks the cycle of the same old and introduces novelty to your everyday life. Furthermore, learning new skills keeps your brain active and increases your interest levels, thus preventing boredom from settling in.
Please, note that this doesn’t mean that boredom is a negative thing. From time to time, we need to let our mind be idle in order to process new information or enhance creativity and new ideas. What’s important here is that we shouldn’t let our mind wander for too long. The right balance between being lazy and engaged is necessary for growth and development.
Rewires Your Brain
If presented with a challenging environment, our body and mind changes. Muscles gets stronger, hearts and lungs get larger and brain connections become faster and more focused. This reorganisation of the brain is the basis of all skill acquisition and development.Erik Hamre
Every time we learn a new skill, our brain changes a bit. New naturopaths are created and neural connections are being strengthened. Rewiring our brain is what makes us more adaptable and it enables us to perform better, faster and with more accuracy.
Moreover, as our brain gets rewired, we are able to change habits and grow in so many ways. That’s why inactivity and unwillingness to learn and change leads to our brain withering slowly, thus causing numerous illnesses and conditions, including depression and dementia to appear at an earlier stage of our lives.
Makes You More Appealing to Others
It’s really simple: people are drawn to those they have something in common with. This stands for life in general, but work environments as well. More and more companies are shifting to hiring attitude and willingness to learn rather than know-it-alls.
More often than not, your versatile skills will come in handy when applying for jobs. Employers love meeting candidates who show interest in learning and growth. The more skilled you are in your field or the more skills you have that make you a well-rounded person, the more attractive a candidate you will be for different job positions.
Similarly, the more interests you have, the more conversations you can have with other people. There’s nothing wrong with being well-versed in one or two topics, though. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in a variety of topics, you’ll be more likely to connect with others. What is more, you’ll enjoy meeting people you otherwise might not have the opportunity to meet.
In addition to general benefits, there are some psychological benefits of learning something new that make it so much more appealing to acquire new knowledge and skills.
Psychological Benefits of Learning Something New
Everything that you experience leaves its mark on your brain. When you learn something new, the neurons involved in the learning episode grow new projections and form new connections. Your brain may even produce new neuronseLife Sciences
As your brain changes, you become more flexible and open to novelty. In addition, your life improves in so many ways. You’ll find my top three psychological benefits of learning new skills, but just like mentioned before, lots more can be added to the list.
Reduces Fear and Anxiety
Learning new skills takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to challenges and uncertainties. The more you’re presented with novelty, the more you become accustomed to change, which greatly reduces fear and anxiety of the unknown.
The quality of your life will significantly improve when you don’t live in constant fear and anxiety. Moreover, you will be ready to face unexpected circumstances with a greater calm and positive attitude.
Potentially Postpones Dementia
People who learn a new skill are less likely to develop dementia, which has been linked to demyelination of your brain. People who actively learn new skills don’t give their brains a chance to demyelinate, and their neural pathways are ready for new impulses to travel along them.WGREICOMEDIASHOWERCOM
In a nutshell, your brain cells are less likely to die out (or slowlier to do it anyway) if you actively learn new skills.
Every time you achieve something, you feel better about yourself. As you keep learning new skills, you tend to feel happier because your sense of self worth improves. Remember how every time you succeed at something, you tend to smile and there’s this positive feeling rising in your chest. Well, that’s what happens every time you learn something new. You won’t be euphoric all the time, but the feeling of accomplishment and self-efficacy will last for some time. If you keep doing this, your base level of happiness will eventually increase. In other words, the more you learn, the happier you are.
What’s Next on Your To-Learn List?
There you have it. With so many advantages, there are really no excuses not to actively learn something new. You define the pace and the skill or knowledge you would like to acquire. Just make sure that learning is an ongoing process in your life. I encourage you to create a to-learn list and visit it occasionally for inspiration.
There is so much out there that you can gain from opening up to new experiences and opportunities. I wish you all the best on your journey of learning and growth and if you feel like sharing some of it with me, I’ll be more than happy to listen.