Contractors have likely had their fill of hiring managers, agencies and clients harping on about ‘professional development.’
But the sort of learning I’d advocate — ultimately about one’s self — is a touch different, with touching and different rewards too, writes life coach Shwezin Win, founder of Win at Life.
Every day is a school day, especially if you’re a contractor
And from what I’ve seen of contractors, more than any other type of professional actually — as with contractors their work pattern tends to be flexible; they often call the shots over when they work, and exercise control over their schedules, every day really is a school day. Or at least, it can be!
I must confess — I’ve said this old adage and its variant ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ many times to my children. We don’t stop learning just because we’ve left formal education, we learn every day, I tell them.
It’s learning. But not as you might know it…
But I come from a generation when formal educational courses and learning was very narrow. It was mostly academic, always in formal settings and in classrooms you yearned to leave almost as soon as you entered. That tummy-turning experience is not a million miles away from the guffaw contractors might utter faced with the ‘professional development’ choir.
Fast-forward to today’s world, however, which fortunately has widely dispatched with this face-to-face, quite drab learning, and in it, both you and I can learn practically anything, anywhere, anytime.
The Festival of Learning is onto something; so what will you ‘Have a Go’ at?
In celebration of the ‘Have a Go’ Month from the Festival of Learning, that’s September 2023 and its aim of highlighting the benefits of education for adults, I’d like to ask you — how are you making the most of such a wealth of learning opportunities?
It’s too easy, as we get into the workforce, to slip into only learning what we “need” to learn, or what clients “need” us to learn, versus what we, ourselves, “want” to learn in our lifetime.
I’m pleased to say a contractor-client who quietly admits he finds the majestic sounds of a piano totally arresting, has really brought this home to me.
A natural tonic
In our life coaching sessions together, he mentioned a love of music which started early on but he didn’t have an opportunity to play a musical instrument, even as a youngster. As he grew up, he found music became a natural tonic for stress, fears and anxieties, so much so that today, instrumentals are his ‘go-to’ for decompressing after a long day. The only rub? His unwinding was niggled by him being in awe of those playing the instruments!
Well, just because we’ve become adults, it doesn’t mean we’re “past it.” You are not “over the hill” with learning.
Four advantages of learning in later life
On the contrary, it’s widely accepted that learning in your later years has some benefits:
- You’re more motivated
Of course you’re more motivated — you’re learning something because you understand why you want to!
- Your learning ability is increased
Studies show that your ability to gather knowledge increases with age. So learn-away, because the ability goes great guns until you’re in your 60s and even then, it doesn’t decline until the age of 75.
- You’re less easily distracted
You know what it takes to achieve something and you’re able to focus and prioritise!
- You’re more resilient
Contractors (more than most) are pretty disposed towards taking the rough with the smooth! You’re certainly not naive enough to think everything will be easy; you understand what it takes.
Now, I’m rather hoping you’ll do more than just simply absorb these four advantages to learning in later life, and actually go off and explore learning something new!
Whenever the mood takes you, and you do look to be at your best by studying a new craft; importing a new body of knowledge or opening your mind to a new activity or pursuit, consider that you’ll likely excel if you feed your brain with things that you’re passionate about. Prioritise things that make you smile; which feed your positive emotions; that put a spring in your step.
Top 4 long-term benefits of learning
The truth is; any kind of learning, whether it’s learning about yourself, a new language, a new skill, hobby or sport, has real long-term benefit:
- It boosts your self-confidence, by giving you a sense of accomplishment.
- It raises your self-esteem, because you’ve now got more strings to your bow.
- It grants you new skills, as whatever you’ve learnt it’s YOURS, for life.
- It gives you a new outlook. Think about it; the more knowledgeable we are, especially about ourselves, the more we can use that information to consider different choices and actions.
Back to my client, if I may. We spoke together about the importance of creating an environment of emotional and mental wellbeing, and how he could keep at the top of his game — professionally. And as an answer, we kept coming back to music!
The contractor realised that to be at their best at work, they needed something that was ‘just for them,’ something to help them destress entirely, to take their mind off contracting and completely unwind.
The solution? The contractor committed to playing the piano. A life-long aspiration which was previously dismissed, through our sessions together, became the subject of a workable, weekly plan. At the time of writing, I can share that the next stop for the contractor is to sit their Grade One piano exam.
You’re never too old to learn
Remember, you’re never too old to learn. Your maturity is an advantage, the world of learning is so much more abundant than it used to be, so continue to be curious about YOU, what you want and how you can make it happen.
Don’t get complacent with what you already know. Look to learn more, which will help you grow. Help yourself to improve and you’ll start to see how much more you can achieve.
Piano? Polish? Parkour? Tell me what you’re going to learn, and why, on Oct 5th
Finally, if your curious about what I do and you’d like to learn more about coaching, come and meet me at a FREE virtual drop-in session just for Contractor UK readers. It’s on Thursday 5th October from 12:30-13:30. I’ll be happy to give you a view of what coaching is, what it isn’t, when it’s appropriate, when it’s not, because — just like the piano — it’s not right for everyone! Connect with me on October fifth and I’ll let you know if life coaching is right for you, and I can of course answer any questions you have. You can click here to register or use this URL: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/714660447637?aff=oddtdtcreator