Education to many can often bring back memories of being bored in a classroom, waiting for the bell to ring so you can hang out with your friends, or go home and get on with the things you were really interested in. Schools don't really appeal to every personality type, and not every subject sparks interest in everyone. But I’m sure if you can cast your memory back, you’ll remember that not all classes were terrible. Maybe you’re even one of the people who really enjoyed school.
Sadly, so many people leave school and stop learning. But really, learning is the only way to truly grow as a person. You may have heard the saying, "you learn something new every day" - well, why not make that a reality, and put effort into using each and every day as an opportunity to learn and grow? Because if you have a vision of what you want to achieve in your life, let me tell you: you’re probably going to need to learn new skills to get there.
How do you achieve that sort of personal development? Though self-education. Self-education is about educating yourself, based on your interests, at your pace, without a master or teacher. You set your own goals and make the most out of them. You’re in charge of your own schedule and study around the other areas of your life to meet your needs. The best part is all you really need to start educating yourself is an internet connection to source your education materials, a goal, and some motivation. If this sounds like an interesting concept to you, let's take a further look at why self-education is so important and how it can benefit you.
Learn to think outside the box
Self-education is a fantastic way to learn how to think outside the box and switch on your creative mind. Most education methods will teach you how to tackle conventional problems with conventional wisdom. There's nothing wrong with that, but it can be limiting. We live in a world that is changing faster than we can keep up with, and that's a fact. Not all new problems can be solved with old answers, so thinking outside conventional wisdom can significantly benefit your home and work life.
Self-education gives you the freedom to step outside the curriculum to learn more nuanced aspects of a particular subject in finer detail. This way, you can deep dive into topics you felt were over and done with too quickly in your formal education to understand a subject in detail. Because there are also little to no time constraints, you are free to ponder your topic of interest until your heart's content - meaning you can truly become an expert if you put the work in.
Having the power to approach a problem from a different angle is truly an incredible skill. Mastering how to think differently means you won't need to rely on following the same path others have used in the past and can pave your own way. Remember that thinking outside the box is where innovation is born. Many say, "there's no need to reinvent the wheel" - meaning there is no need to overcomplicate things that can be simple. And while that’s sometimes true, remember that over time things naturally evolve, so it’s up to thinkers and creators like you to keep evolving too.
Learn to think critically
Critical thinking is the ability to objectively think about a problem or topic to form a judgment or analysis. Learning how to think critically is an excellent skill to have. This ability will aid you in solving complex problems strategically and show you the world in a whole new light. That might sound dramatic but bear with me. Let me explain…
Without thinking about something critically, you can only repeat what you've heard. You don't know how to put this knowledge into practice, can't honestly explain it, and might not even know if it's correct. By thinking about ideas in detail, you can slowly give your black-and-white yes or no answers more nuance because most problems don't tend to be that simple.
Critical thinking is generally considered a soft skill. Still, learning how to do it will benefit you in the real world. It will help you become more competent, independent, and reflective. It will allow you to be a better listener and speaker by helping you make sense of complex ideas. With this skill, you will be an asset to any team, and it will even help you become a better partner in your relationships. Critical thinking will enable you to be a more well-rounded person in every aspect of your life!
Create new opportunities
Learning new skills is the best way to improve your chances of success because if you are multi-skilled, there will be more roles you'll be able to step into. Maybe you’re a graphic designer but would like to learn photography too. What's stopping you? The more you know, the more you can do. And gone are the days of needing a university degree as a prerequisite. If you don’t have the time to facilitate that: why not educate yourself? You can find plenty of resources online. These new skills will help you both personally and professionally!
Perhaps you've seen dream jobs on your radar that you haven't bothered applying for simply because you don't have the skills. By self-educating, you can say goodbye to the person who missed that opportunity and say hello to the new you who has the skills to get what you want. You will feel more comfortable stepping into different roles, knowing you have the ability to learn new things fast, and you’ll be far more appealing to potential employers. Not to mention, you will also feel more motivated knowing you've grown by applying yourself and creating new opportunities through learning.
Increase your worldly knowledge
Self-education can inform you about our world without you even knowing it. Think about how many little facts you've picked up since you left school from things you've watched and read. There's no shortage of things you can discover about the world. By self-educating, you can become highly worldly in your knowledge. This will help you access various facts you never knew existed and make you curious and thirst for more knowledge.
How is this useful? Having a higher level of general knowledge of the world will better help you understand the world. This means you'll be better prepared to navigate uncertain situations easier than others who lack this knowledge. This is especially useful if you own a small business. Knowing how to move your business forward in this world means you might be able to see further into the future than most. This means you could avoid problems heading in your industry's direction and catch those new trends in their infancy to achieve success for you and your business.
How can I educate myself?
So you like the idea of self-education, but you don’t know where to start? I know it can feel a little daunting at first - but trust me, it’s easier than you might think… purely because of the sheer availability of information we have these days. In the modern world, we have access to the vast majority of the world's knowledge at our fingertips, thanks to the internet. There are various free courses, lectures, and tutorials available on platforms like YouTube, as well as paid platforms like Udemy or Skillshare. Here you can receive an excellent education where you can learn at your own pace, save videos and rewatch at your leisure.
There are also tons of blogs and articles online that serve the same purpose - just like the one you’re reading now! Keeping up to date with these free online materials will allow you to absorb all of that knowledge and contribute to your personal development over time. Plus, the more you search for this content on Google, the more its algorithm will cater to your interests and give you more content you can use to upskill yourself. And let's not forget how essential books/audiobooks, and podcasts can be in your self-education journey. If you're interested in what we've been reading to help us grow at CLD, here are 10 books to read for personal growth.
Let me also say this: don't be afraid to spend a bit of money on your self-education. There are many short courses online you can sign up for that give specialist knowledge on specific topics you might be interested in - just like the ones we offer at CLD. These courses give you the opportunity to learn skills that are relatively niche and often considered industry secrets. By signing up for these courses, you could help yourself get ahead in the job market, or help your small business achieve greater success. Meaning eventually you will get a return on your investment.
A final note on self-education
If this has inspired you to work on your personal development through self-education, let me give you one piece of advice: start today. It can be a step big or small, but just make sure you take a step in the right direction. There's no age limit on learning something new. It doesn't matter if you've just finished school, are a business owner, or feel stuck in a job you're not happy with. Self-education is a method to improve your skills, learn new skills and reap the benefits they bring. Regardless of who you are, try to make time for personal improvement and practice self-education. It can equip you with a fantastic versatile skill set that will bring you closer to achieving your goals - whatever they may be.