“To love what you do and feel that it matters–how could anything be more fun?”
- Katharine Graham
In Part One of this series we learned how to target our dream careers and in Part Two we sussed out the skills required to start achieving it. In Part Three we are going to focus on increasing your appetite and ability for learning, and how this translates into a fulfilling career.
Never Stop Learning
It is a common, often subconscious, belief that learning stops when you remove yourself from a traditional academic environment – be that school, college or university. But, for your dream career, this is absolutely not the case. You should always look at your career as a path, not simply a destination (if you saw the movie ‘Click’ then you’ll know the danger in that!)
However, this doesn’t mean you should constantly be striving ahead, rather than being content where you are – it is actually quite the opposite, it’s knowing that, when you reach a milestone, it is not the be all and end all, but merely a glorious bonus in a tapestry that stretches far beyond and around it.
When we stop learning, or being open to learning, in many ways we stop trying, we stop feeling challenged, we stop being creative and hopeful in our work, and therefore that work becomes dull, wearing, and a slog. Life is a continuous puzzle, and it should always be that way. The moment you feel you have it all sussed is the moment life becomes monotonous.
When thinking about learning within the framework of your dream career, it is necessary to look backwards as well as forwards – what type of learning got you to where you are now? What is the best direction to take the results of that learning?
Got a conventional education? Fantastic.
Just because you did what everyone said was the ‘sensible’ thing and got a qualification, doesn’t mean you aren’t still destined for a creative and unconventional career path. Standard curriculum education may have its faults, but it also has many benefits.
Take a wider look at your education – what has it taught you beyond the course title? Have you gained confidence, people skills, and a power for problem solving? If you start to look, you’ll realise there may be far more to your education than you thought, and you may start to see how those skills can transfer into a more creative, ‘designed’ career.
Not got a conventional education? No problem!
Learning is a personal journey, and it is certainly not found strictly within the confines of a classroom, or out of a traditional textbook. Find a genuine love for learning and you will find there are many avenues for self-education.
The likelihood is that you have built a wealth of real-life experience in place of a conventional education, and this can be just as much, if not more, value to your self-fashioned career than you think.
What Learning Looks Like
Learning comes in different formats. Learning can be alive and interactive and exciting – not just dusty equations on a blackboard. Learning is a frame of mind and, when you start to illustrate and intertwine your dream career into your life, you’ll realise there are lessons to be found all over the place.
Books – Fiction and non-fiction, books are perhaps the most straightforward way of gaining new insights within your field. Aim to read at least a book a month that is relevant to/impacts your career.
Internet – It’s easy to take the internet for granted, but we have more knowledge literally at our fingertips than we have ever had before. Take advantage of that.
Museums – Our culture, our ideas and our businesses are all built on our history, so educating yourself about the world you come from is a great tool for shaping the world you want for yourself.
Art Galleries – It is important to feel we are learning creatively just as much as it is to feel we are ingesting facts and figures. Gaining inspiration or knowledge from any creative medium can really help to inspire various elements of your career.
Film – Not merely a brain-dead way to pass a Saturday evening with a bucket of sweet or salted, cinema is a powerfully animated tool for teaching yourself about various careers, cultures, continents and more.
Music – Music and its history tells a story, it arouses our creative side and it is a thoroughly pleasurable way to learn about the world, so you’ve got no excuse to avoid it!
Travel and Real Life Experiences – These are perhaps the most valuable ways of learning as they remove you from your comfort zone, challenge you, and ultimately teach you about yourself.
People – That’s right, actual conversation and the ability to listen will pay dividends in almost any career. Always strive to learn from the people in your life, new and old; they have first-hand experiences you may never get the chance to live yourself.
Short, evening or residential courses – If you like the group learning environment then there are courses available within almost any niche. If you haven’t got the time or opportunity to physically attend courses, e-courses are becoming more and more popular.
Community Events – Getting involved in community events is the perfect way to tie together all kinds of forms of learning and, hopefully, build your career.
Putting Love into What You Do
So where does love come into all of this? Well, if you truly love your career, then an inherent hunger for improving within it is a given, and this is just another way of learning. Your dream career should feel fluid, organic and always fresh and exciting; that’s when you keep your appetite for it; that’s when you love it; and that is only achieved when you are open to learning.
The next and final part of this series will be all about making your passion pay – how to earn an income from doing what you love – so don’t miss out.