“…But I can’t learn French, I’m too old.”
“I couldn’t find the time for piano lessons if I tried.”
“…it’s too late for me, I wouldn’t be any good at learning how to code.”

 

You’ve probably heard phrases like these before. Especially when topics touch on long-held but unrealised interests and passions.

Now, repeat after me: “I am never too old to learn something new.” 

You can probably tell – this time I'm here to dispel that kind of negative thinking we see above: the kind that stops you in your tracks before you even get started. Who's got time for that? Instead, let's celebrate a more DIY-style approach to learning: the self-motivated kind that makes things happen.

 

It’s So, So Good For Your Brain

I’m going to start with a benefit that’s - if I'm honest - more motivated by self-interest than anything else, but it’s still valid! Learning works wonders for keeping your brain in really good shape. Think of it as a muscle - one that needs just as much exercise as your biceps, calves and hamstrings.
And what benefit does this bring, I hear you ask? A simple one: continuing to learn, throughout your life, is a fantastic way to maintain optimum mental health well into old age. That’s because when you process new and valuable information, your brain connects neurons in different ways, in new groups and pathways, meaning new possibilities and ways for you to see the world, or understand a problem. Keep your grey cells on their toes in this way and you maintain your ability to process information quickly and easily. If you’re interested, more about that here.

It Doesn’t Have to Be In A Classroom

Granted, some of us loved school, and some of us really didn’t. But nowadays, that wonderful Internet we all take for granted actually means we can learn pretty much wherever our WiFi connection allows. At a cafe, on the train, or in a red telephone box - if you're in London! I’ll touch on a few amazing resources below, but expect more in-depth coverage in an upcoming post:

Codecademy - to learn how to code in multiple languages, with a thriving, supportive community, there and ready to answer questions

Udacity - for more vocational, massively open online courses (or MOOCs)

Lynda - practical digital skills of all kinds: amazing if you’ve been interested in learning Photoshop, but never quite got round to it

Creative LiveSkillshare and Khan Academy also have brilliant offerings for the consistently curious.

But, of course, learning in person is great fun too: at community-run events, workshops, and spaces - like at the School of Life, the Idler Academy, or General Assembly. That’s one of the best things about self-directed learning - because you’re in the driving seat, it’s always your motivations that lead the way.

The Big Question

And those last points help illuminate this last one. A real reason why you should never stop learning is the mindset it puts you in: one of possibilities and potential. In terms of up-skilling yourself for educational or career-related purposes, the sky really is the limit. There’s never been a better time to do so - with so many resources at your fingertips. The question you should ask yourself is:

What do you want to learn?