How often do you forget to brush your teeth in the morning? Probably not very often. Even if you don’t always think: “I have to brush my teeth… I have to brush my teeth…”
And how often do you plan to attend an educational event or spend 15 minutes each day learning something new, but then forget about it?
Why don’t we even think, but do when it comes to brushing our teeth? And why do we constantly think but don’t act when it comes to learning?
The answer is clear. Brushing our teeth, driving, smoking, having morning coffee in the office in the kitchen, or Monday meetings are habits we have formed. The power of practice on an individual or organizational level is incredible. Try to change one of your habits and you will feel its power.
Charles Duhigg, in his book “The Power of Habit. Why we behave this way and not this way in life and business”, introduces the concept of the ‘habit loop’. A “habit loop” consists of an instruction (trigger), a pattern of behavior and a reward.
Suppose you like to start your morning with coffee and it has become a special habit for you. Ringing the alarm clock and getting up becomes a trigger for you. Making coffee and drinking becomes a behavioral pattern. And a caffeine boost, a moment of relaxation or a lazy time with the newspaper becomes a reward.
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Fortunately, sports and healthy eating are becoming routine for more and more people. How do you make exercise such a habit?
Five tips to make learning a habit
1. Start with “Why?”
It’s not for nothing that it is joked that the best way to learn Spanish is to fall in love with a Spanish girl. Decide for yourself why you want to know. Maybe you want to recharge your batteries or make new acquaintances. Or to develop a particular skill or competence? Just being able to talk about a new topic, such as impressionism or neuroscience?
2. Set SMART goals.
By setting clear goals, you can build your learning strategy. Most importantly, of course, the goals must be formulated in a SMART technique (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). That is, for example, the goal should not be “improve your English skills” but “take ten lessons with a teacher and attend five conversation clubs within a month.”
3. Turn learning into another habit.
To do this, leave the trigger and reward the old habit, but change the behavior pattern. Again, imagine that you like to start the morning with coffee. When you start your coffee, you probably immediately get your phone to check Facebook in parallel – that’s the pattern you can change! Instead of Facebook, open a book, saved articles you’ve wanted to read for a long time but didn’t have 5-10 minutes to do, or a short language lesson on Duolingo. So you leave the instruction (drink coffee in the morning) and reward (a caffeine boost or just a few minutes alone), but change the pattern (short training instead of checking Facebook).
4. Create groups of “Alcoholics Anonymous” for training
The promise to others always encourages us to keep going, even when our motivation wanes. Appointments with a coach or instructor force us to come to the training as well. A regular monthly book club helps us read at least one book a month. Humans are social creatures, so we always care what others think of us. Use this to your advantage.
For example, you have a habit of scheduling weekly work with your colleagues. Build into that habit training for the entire team. You can schedule your team to attend an educational event during the week or tell everyone what you learned from a book you recently read, a lecture you heard, or a training session you attended.
5. Start with small steps
Learning does not necessarily take a significant amount of time or money. Start with small steps. Often we don’t get into the habit of reading a lot, but we regularly set ourselves the goal of reading 50 books a year, and predictably fail to achieve that year after year, and then give up on that goal altogether. And you don’t start with 50 books, but with 20, but read them! Don’t start with “learn a language in 3 months” but with “visit five conversation clubs in 3 months”! The big journey starts with a small step.
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According to a paper writer research could cause one-third of all workers in the US to be out of work by 2030 as a result of automation. That begs the question: what can we learn to stay competitive?
One of the ten most in-demand skills in the UK by 2030 is active learning or learning strategies. That is, no knowledge of any particular programming language or Excel, but the ability to learn as such, because that’s what can give you access to all the other skills – we’re learning to master them and are constantly changing.
With small steps you can start working on the future today and, for example, attend a number of lectures next week.
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