Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Steps to Becoming a Life-Long Learner

When I became a mom at seventeen, I didn’t know a lot. I dropped out of high school my senior year and I finished my high school credits at home. I grew up in a small town, and my graduating class was under forty students. I’d gone to school with most of those students since kindergarten. So you could say that my world was pretty small.

After high school I met and married my husband, started college, and moved to a new town. I learned how to take care of a house, how to clean, how to cook. Each “growth” step was hard, and thankfully my family and friends were still close.

When John and I moved more than one hour away for him to go to college, I felt as if we’d traveled to a different universe. I learned how to live in a new town and how to make new friends. I started a small business making hand-crafted teddy bears, so I learned how to be a business woman.

A year after we moved I had another baby, so I learned how to care for multiple children. I realized I was more interested in writing than making teddy bears, and so I started doing that. I attended conferences and started learning about writing. With each step came changes, and looking back I realize my greatest asset was my ability to roll up my sleeves and try something new.

Every day we have a choice: to take a step to follow a dream or to stay stagnant and continue on as things are. I’ve grown and changed throughout the years because I hadn’t been afraid to learn. The wisest man who ever lived once said, “Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper,” (Proverbs 19:8 GNT). He knew what he was talking about!

Here are five simple steps to becoming a life-long learner.

  1. Learn who God created you to be. For a season I enjoyed being creative and making teddy bears, but when I first started pursing writing I KNEW I was made for this. I find joy even in the middle of the struggle. I always want to know more and do better. Work doesn’t seem like work {most of the time}.
  2. Learn your learning style. I learn best with books and papers piled around me. I usually have to write down my thoughts to process them. When I read a book, I underline. When I attend conferences I take pages of notes, and that’s just me. Figure out how you learn best and use your preferences to your advantage.
  3. Listen. I’ve learned so much from listening to others. I build relationships with people who I respect and want to learn from. I read blogs written by people I respect. I pay attention to those around me in everyday life.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I try new recipes and visit new places. I watch how-to videos . . . and then try it myself!
  5. Teach. The best way to incorporate your knowledge is to teach it. As a mom you have a willing student in your child. Involve your child in whatever you’re learning. If you’re cooking, sit your little one on the counter to watch you. Let your child know the things that interest you.
Because of my willingness to learn, this teen mom became a best-selling author, an avid traveler, and a teacher at conferences. I cook, have a nice house, and always have a pile of books at my side.

Learning can take you far—you just have to be brave and start! Once you start learning and growing, your life will never be the same. Your child’s life will never be the same either as he or she learns to follow in your footsteps!

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