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The Importance of Lifelong Learning for Professional Development

By Dave Poling, Aston Carter Vice President, East Region

I wasn’t always a great student, in fact I had to develop a lot of my true learning skills as a professional in the working world. In school, I basically did just enough to get by and never once found myself at the top of the class. As I transitioned into the professional world, I knew my mindset and approach toward learning needed to change to ensure I was successful in my career.

Everything changed when I met a few great leaders early in my career that stressed the importance of self-development and continuous improvement. I saw first-hand how their discipline impacted their careers. Knowing that I had big goals and wanted to go far, I wanted to make this a habit myself and made the decision to become a lifelong learner.

What is Lifelong Learning?

Lifelong learning is the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and skills to improve one's personal and professional development. It is a mindset that encourages individuals to continuously seek new career opportunities for growth and development. This ongoing learning and development is not limited to formal education; it includes informal and experiential learning opportunities.

Lifelong learning is the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and skills.

According to the Valamais, a learning solutions company, "…lifelong learning can help us to achieve personal fulfillment and satisfaction … Employers are recognizing that formal education credentials are not the only way to recognize and develop talent and that lifelong learning may be the desired trait.”

Why is Becoming a Lifelong Learner Important?

If you want to grow your career, become more productive or improve your quality of life, you can’t stop learning. Hoping you’ll learn something new, or just waiting for someone to train you, will only leave you frustrated and wondering why you’re not getting ahead. Being proactive about your learning and continually seeking new ways to challenge yourself, gain new experiences, and deepen your knowledge are important steps to growing in your career and developing further — personally and professionally.

Being a lifelong learner is essential for personal and professional development. It helps to have a good set of skills, knowledge and attitude that are aligned with the current market trends. It is important to stay curious, open-minded, self-motivated, self-directed, persistent, flexible and reflective in order to be successful in today's job market.

How Do You Become a Lifelong Learner?

Understanding the habits of lifelong learners and embracing changes in your approach to learning are great places to start on your development journey. Here are a few lifelong learning habits to help you get started:

Become an Avid Reader

Reading is a terrific way to gain knowledge and expand your perspective. Whether it's books, articles or blogs, reading can help you learn new things and improve your critical thinking skills.

Take Online Classes or Professional Development Workshops

The internet has made it easier than ever to access educational resources. You can find a wide range of online classes, webinars, and workshops on almost any topic today. Many of these resources are widely available online for free or can be accessed through paid subscriptions or memberships to professional organizations.

Set Learning Goals

Setting learning goals is a great way to stay motivated and on track. Identify what you want to learn and make a plan to achieve it. For example, if it’s your goal to read more books, set yourself up for success by creating a reading schedule or seeking out avenues to help you achieve that goal (e.g., joining a book club).


Building relationships with others in your field and taking proactive steps to deepen your professional network is an excellent way to learn from others and stay informed about new developments — and maybe even career opportunities.

Practice Active Listening

Paying attention to others and actively listening to their ideas can help you learn new things and gain different perspectives in your career. Taking notes while others are speaking can help you generate questions to follow up with the person after, which can help show you’re interested and engaged with what they were sharing.

Reflect on Your Learning

Take the time to reflect on what you've learned and how it can be applied to your life. This will help you retain the information and make it more meaningful.

Stay Curious

Having a curious mindset is essential for lifelong learning. Keep an open mind and be willing to explore new ideas and perspectives.

Habits of a lifelong learner spiderweb graphic.

How Lifelong Learning Can Help Your Career

Research has shown that being a lifelong learner can benefit an individual's career development. Employees who continuously learn and develop new skills are better equipped to adapt to change and are more likely to be promoted. Furthermore, a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that those who have a degree or certification in a high-demand field are more likely to be employed and have higher earnings.

In today's fast-paced, ever-changing job market, the ability to continuously learn and adapt is essential for success. By developing the trait and habits of a lifelong learner, individuals can navigate their careers with confidence and stay ahead of their competition.

To connect with a recruiter who can talk to you about the various learning resources offered to our contract employees, reach out to your local Aston Carter office today.

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