Lifelong Learning is Rewarding, But So Is Teaching – Rosana Beechum

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Lifelong learning is not for everyone. Some people prefer to read a newspaper that has more gossip than actual world news and haven’t picked up a book or taken a course since college. For other people, life isn’t worth living if they must stop learning – to them, that’s like a slow death. They feel alive when they learn new things and it invigorates them. They never want to stop and who can blame them?

Some Develop the Learning Habit Early, Others Much Later

Sometimes, we develop the habit of reading as a child and never lose it. I was discovered engrossed in one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels at the age of eight. My mother was very surprised. I had read so much of the book that she bought it for me that I’d finished it on the ride home. I’d never shown an interest in reading up until that point and didn’t enjoy reading projects from school.

For other people, they suffer through English Language classes at school and study the textbooks at college. They then breathe a sigh of relief when they can put them down again. The reason is simple: they were learning to learn. They were not learning because they chose to or because of the enjoyment,it gave them. The motivations were very different and that matters greatly.

Childhood experiences often colourwhen we got the learning habit. The sheer availability of knowledge at our fingertips now through the power of Google is impressive, but we still need help in organisingit and forming an understanding. A two-page article on programming won’t teach you how to write a mobile app. Only a substantial learning resource can help with that. Dipping in and out won’t work because the topic is too complex.

Little and Often is Better Than Sporadic and Unpredictable

Unlike with cramming for exams using an overnight study session complete with energy drinks and matchsticks for eyes, enjoying learning is something that should (eventually) come naturally. Rather than huge binge reading or learning sessions through sports coaches or subject tutors, the best learning is done using the principle of little and often.

The idea with little and often is that you learn in bite-sized chunks rather than trying to digest the whole subject in one huge bite. Lifelong learning that’s pursued steadily 5+ days of the week in 1-2-hour sessions is likely to remain enjoyable and instructive. Recalling the information later and putting it to practical use is likely to happen when only taking new information in a little bit at a time.

It’s easier for the human brain to sort, assimilate and store new information during REM sleep and be able to readily recall what was learned the night before at the next session. Trying to cram information in is less enjoyable and doesn’t satisfy, as any student will happily remind you! It’s also harder to recall later.

Find the Link Between Learning and Teaching

At a certain point, you have acquired enough working knowledge on a subject that the student could become the teacher. It has been said that picking up information is fine, but applying it is what turns information into wisdom. When you’ve become wise, it’s an interesting turning point because there are truth nuggets to impart toother eager learners.

There are also karmic rewards because enlightening others with information they find useful has a huge feel-good factor that’s not to be discounted. Whether that’s a posting on a forum sharing knowledge or finding another outlet to assist other people, it just feels rewarding.

Learning to Love the Way of the Educator

Going from being a student to an educator isn’t always an easy step. It often takes longer than expected and it’s more of a journey. However, it’s one worth taking when being an educator feels like a calling and not just a possible vocation. Seeing a student’s eyes open wide when they finally understand a key point is a magical thing. Or, seeing the student’s understanding when they’re visibly connecting the dots of disparate facts and transforming that into a mosaic in their mind they can reference, is pleasing.

When a school teacher says that “they do it for the kids”, other educators nod in silent understanding. Many of us have a fondly-remembered teacher from our school days who got us over the hump when we stumbled on a tricky factoid. In many ways, we secretly wish to be that special tutor or teacher for someone else.

Finding the Flow Using What You Know

If you want to become an educator in some capacity, what should you teach? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow, the secret to happiness, has written and given a TED talk about getting into a flow state. The simplest way to describe the flow state is when you’ve become so engrossed in an activity that you lose all track of time. Your work colleagues are heading out to lunch and stop by your cubicle and you’re surprised it is lunchtime already. Or, you started reading the latest John Grisham legal thriller at home and the afternoon completely disappeared. That’s flow.

With finding the subjects that you might want to teach, you should ask yourself whether there’s one that you can really get into the flow with? A subject that you love or have an enduring fascination for is ideal to teach to other people. A passion for a topic is always going to come across to students and that passion is often contagious. It’s like a secret sauce – they want to know what it tastes like. When you have a subject matter that grips you in that way, then it’s time to see if you can teach that professionally.

Becoming a Tutor

There are more options than ever to help students with home tuition on a topic they need help with or have a desireto learn more about. When they want to find a tutor, they can look online at a site like Superprof which has many tutors able to teach face-to-face in a one-on-one session. Thanks to websites like Superprof, it’s incredibly easy to find tutors of a high quality. Private tutors can also teach using video streaming, which requires a webcam and a headset to see and hear each other.

You can see what categories a teaching site covers. Maybe they have a subject category that matches your knowledge or passion. You never know if you don’t consider it. It’s certainly a good way to make some extra money to go towards a holiday or long-term savings. The better tutors can even make a full-time living if they teach a popular topic, receive good ratings from their students, and put the effort into it.

It’s wonderful to enjoy learning new things. There is so much out there to educate yourself, there’s no excuse for failing to apply yourself. Knowledge is no longer restricted to the select few who can afford high-priced college tuition or who run in the right circles. We can all now delve deep into topics of interest because, due to the scope of the internet, there’s bound to be other people we can connect with. They’ll either know more than you or are eager to share what they’ve learned so far. The only sad thing is that many people wish they’d become a lifelong learner sooner in life and hadn’t waited so long to start. Never mind. Make up for lost time now.

Becoming Your Own Boss – Rosana Beechum

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There comes a point in every career where the allure of going your own way beckons.  Working for someone else is how most people start, but what happens once you have enough experience and confidence to stand on your own? Thoughts of going solo might be triggered by being passed over for a promotion, seeing someone else jump ship, or a gradual sense that you’re ready for the next step in your career. Which begs the question, is it the right move for you?

The Impact of Motivation

If the thought of your own private practice or solo venture beckons, ask yourself why. The freedom of being your own boss and doing things your own way might be tempting, but something deeper must carry you when the excitement wears off and the obvious benefits are shadowed by the unexpected or tedious. Being in charge of your own clientele essentially becomes small business ownership. Adding new clients, servicing them, dealing with logistical and regulatory issues big and small becomes quite a commitment not to be taken lightly. When you are the engine of your business, everything stops when you stop, so be sure you have the right motivation. Understanding your true motivation for going independent is key to carry on when things get difficult. The first most important question is why you want to make the change. Is the added responsibility your way of taking control of your future or is there something bothering you about your current situation? Uncovering your deeper motivations can help align your goal to your happiness. Many ventures stop before they even start because the motivating force behind them isn’t strong enough to overcome doubts or inertia.

Dig Deep for Self Determination

A useful exercise is the “Five why” method. Wanting to make more money is a common reason. However, if your reasons are only financial, you can gain more satisfaction in your current position simply by asking for a raise. Asking a second question of why you want to make more money is more useful. Perhaps you want to save for a house or raise your standard of living. Going even deeper and asking a third time might reveal that you want stability or a certain amount of respect.  Being your own boss is not for the faint of heart. If your motivation is security and safety, perhaps it is not the right choice. However, for those seeking to make an impression, being in charge is a fine way to show your status. Goals related to autonomy, mastery or a cause are the most durable sources of drive.

Make a Plan for Success

With a clear sense of purpose, you can define fulfilling goals you can stick with. To be clear on the concrete real-world steps to reach those goals, a business plan is in order to organize your thoughts. What sort of services are you offering and how does it differ from other products already out there? Think of the opportunities your business has for solving problems and how you will help your customers. Analyze the market and need for your services and how you will reach new clients. Dedicate time to estimating fixed costs to determine monthly expenses and how much starting capital you need. The biggest expenses are commonly rent and staff, on top of utilities, phone bills, supplies and advertising. Predicting revenue depends on your current clientele and market, so it may be useful to build a model of how your business might perform. If you are unsure, check out the financial modelling training options here. A business plan that makes sound financial sense will not only help you take the appropriate steps, but also convince others to invest in your venture, and financial modeling training could be the way to go.

Make a Graceful Exit

There is a solid plan backing your dreams, now it’s time to give your two weeks’ notice. Goodbye can be awkward. What do you owe your current employer? If you have a non-compete clause in your employment contract, make sure you are not violating it. Note that even if you do have such a clause, they are unenforceable in states like California, so check your local regulations. Depending on your industry, more notice as a courtesy can soften an exit. Ideally you have a mentor relationship with someone more experienced that would not be damaged by such a well thought out move.  Someone who really cares for you will be interested in your growth and will not stand in your way. Asking them what is normal for your industry may help. If you do not have a mentor, checking in with your HR department may be necessary. Giving your boss a heads up may make things awkward but helping cover your role as you exit is the professional thing to do. Close as many projects as you can and split and delegate to your coworkers anything remaining. Making recommendations for your replacement or giving solid leads can help too.  Stealing client lists will certainly burn bridges, but there is nothing wrong with offering your services to customers you have an established relationship with.

Building Your Business

If following the business plan is paying your overhead costs and you are finding it fulfilling, it might be tempting to get complacent. There is nothing wrong with simply staying the course. Paying less attention to minor distractions that pop up may allow you to focus on the present plan, but don’t be afraid to change.  Many of the most successful practices emerge from reactions to real world problems. Adjusting to new opportunities that come up may take some creativity.  Don’t be afraid to pivot!  A small business is nimble enough to adapt to such changes. Not having the weight of a huge company means having the ability to experiment and implement new things. That is when you can test new strategies and determine your strengths.  Innovation keeps you ahead of the competition. Take advantage of markets deemed too difficult for other companies to reach and providing great service when no one else can deliver is how your business will grow. Only going for low hanging fruit will make you miss opportunities. Set your sights higher. Look where your competition isn’t, find out why, and see if you can get around the thing that’s holding everyone else back. Look where your competition is falling short, find a way to do it better or cheaper. Luck is made by first being open to opportunity. Those who have lucky things happen are the ones able to notice the penny on the ground or the future big client that needs a hand today.  As the boss, looking for opportunities for your business will always be on your mind.

Being the Face of Your Brand

Making a name for yourself becomes essential as you become your own brand. Networking with local businesses, professional groups and social clubs should be generating new opportunities for business. Everything you do is a reflection on your work. Honesty and diligence during your social life reflects well on you as a professional. Volunteer opportunities can be a way of advertising. Goodwill generated by donating your services will not only feel good but will help you to break into new markets. Whatever clients you gain will trust you on your reputation. Meetings will have more importance when you visit as the boss.  Checking in with your old mentor or previous coworkers can help you keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry. Solid relationships will mean more support in the future, and you may even attract others to join you.

Working for yourself brings a sense of accomplishment and pride that being just another employee cannot match. Growing a small business into a large thriving business is a journey of small wins over daily problems. For people with the right motivation, running a small business gives the kind of purpose that brings not just prosperity but meaning to their lives. If you can form a solid plan and raise the capital, why not do it?