Continuing Education: The Value of Teaching Yourself After Graduation
I distinctly remember finishing college and dreading the thought of reading another book. After spending countless hours toiling over textbooks, essays, and research assignments in the library, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up another book once I had a job in the real world.
But since graduation, I credit reading as one of the greatest factors in my personal and professional success. The practice of teaching myself skills, seeking additional knowledge, and staying on the lookout for growth opportunities has fundamentally shifted my life in the direction of exponential achievement. This outlook on life, which has produced phenomenal results, began in school.
It Starts in College. Even if you love a topic, being required to read a textbook as part of a homework assignment can be a draining experience. However, like most challenging tasks, you greatly appreciate the hard work long after it’s over. The academic challenges of college honed my skills in reading, writing, and research while simultaneously refining my self-discipline to meet rigorous deadlines. The real world requires these exact same skills. Academic and career education can be the best training ground for life in general and life as a new employee.
Personal Development Becomes Necessary. Self-improvement is essential in life outside of the college bubble. While academic environments will encourage you to learn more and grow, many jobs in the real world will only ask you to repeat the same tasks and use a limited set of skills over and over again. The only way to grow in your career will be to devote yourself to continual learning on your own.
You will quickly discover that a passion for becoming the best in your industry will set you apart from those who are only there to collect a paycheck. Personal development, at its core, is an inner passion to become the best version of you by making forward progress on a daily basis. When you commit to personal growth you will eventually surpass all of your co-workers and former classmates in your field. You can get started now by simply picking up a recommended book about your industry.
Not All Readers are Leaders, but All Leaders are Readers. Former President Harry S. Truman had it right when he commented that all leaders are readers. It’s simply the truth. Those who lead their industry, manage their departments, and start and grow businesses are all leaders who spend a significant amount of time growing their minds. Non-fiction books that enlighten you to fresh ideas about your career field are the best place to get started. You will undoubtedly expand into other genres, but start with the skills and knowledge that get you noticed by the right people at work.
Make the Time. It would be foolish to not discuss the greatest challenge that most people face when it comes to reading—finding the time. Let’s knock this one out quickly: don’t find the time, make it. You will have to prioritize reading, at least 30 minutes a day, in order to make a dent in the infinite pile of reading material available to you.
I would highly recommend you read more than an hour a day, but start small and work up to it. Don’t forget you can always listen to audiobooks in the car, while working out, or while doing household chores. It doesn’t take much to prioritize something than can change the entire trajectory of your life.
Reading may seem like a pain at the moment, but when you allow yourself the time to expand your mind with material that inspires you, it won’t be long before you are hooked. Personal development is my drug of choice. I am an achiever by nature, but an avid reader by choice. Make that same choice for yourself and I firmly believe you will have a similarly profound experience.