You’ve read your last textbook, finished your final exam, and nabbed that closing grade. You are SO ready to sprint off into your new life and celebrate your launch into “official” adulthood. So, learning MORE may not be on your immediate radar.
But here’s the thing: Learning for the sheer joy of it is the trick to a happy life and satisfying career.
Think about it. When you remove the external trappings—exams and grades and test scores—the world becomes your classroom and everyone your teacher. You can learn as much (or, unfortunately, as little) as you choose. You can become an expert—because you literally can’t wait to know everything there is to know about that one thing that completely enthralls you. Music. Rocket Science. Lizards. Philanthropy.
Or you can be more of a bumblebee, flitting from flower to flower, soaking up the nectar from each and moving on. Don’t judge this—indulge it. Your learning will pay off in ways you just can’t see when you’re in the midst of it.
Learning for learning’s sake is powerful. Joyful. Even spiritual. It isn’t about money, although it may very well wind up being how you make yours. It’s about living a rich and happy life that has meaning to YOU.
A great way to get started? Travel. Get out of the town, state, province, country you grew up in and go explore. Soak up cultural differences and understand how the world works. Meet people who are different from you and get to know them. Grab a table at an outdoor café and soak up the atmosphere. Revel in where you are and what’s right in front of you, right now.
You’ll find that curiosity transforms relationships. Learning about someone for the sheer joy of it is intoxicating to both you and the recipient. Who doesn’t love being an object of wonder? Friendships deepen when you are paying attention—and smoldering passions can ignite. It’s not even restricted to the here-and-now. Researching your family lineage might produce a kindred spirit amongst your ancestors (and here you thought you were the only black sheep in the family).
And yes, learning pays dividends in your career. You will quickly find that the most stimulating work environments encourage you to flex your curiosity muscles. That the best leaders are the ones who challenge you to think further and deeper than you thought possible. That the bosses who make you grumble on your way out the door may well be the ones you bless later for the insights you worked like hell for.
Your most unforgettable projects and team experiences may well be alongside those whose curiosity matches (or better yet, exceeds) your own. What wondrous things can a few creative minds concoct when free to explore new territory?
If you have children, that sheer joy will come in handy (along with a hefty dose of patience). Watching your child take their first steps, speak their first word and read their first book will remind you—just in case you’d forgotten along the way—that the joy is in the learning.
Yes, the joy is in the journey. In savoring each and every drop that life dangles in front of you. Even when it’s hard. Sometimes (most often only in retrospect) especially when it’s hard.
So, venture forth with your newly-minted degree and bring your love of learning along for the ride. We need your curiosity, your hunger and your bold new ideas. We need you.
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