Is it Ever Too Late to Learn Something New?

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks". Take this old adage as you will! I am a curator of lifelong learning for personal growth and societal contribution. Even though it may seem that we've learned all that we can, there is always the overlooked importance of going back to the basics! Education isn't only limited to our formal schooling years from Kindergarten to University but the sad thing is that most of us stop or at least reduce the learning process after graduation. Many perceive learning and developing new skills in adulthood reserved only for those who want a promotion or starting a new career. Many also assume that our "prime" learning and development years are in our youth - the older we get the harder it is for us to pick up new skills let alone retain them. (This may be touching on ageism but we won't go there!) I completely disagree. Nurturing skills and learning new skills isn't just essential in maintaining competence in our line of work - as a pharmacist I am constantly required to keep up to date on my knowledge about new therapeutic guidelines and the newest medications! But a part from this "requirement", learning is just good to keep the brain active and sharp.

A child is a sponge for learning - they want to know the who, what, where, when and why's of everything. Scientifically speaking it is because their brain has greater neuroplasticity for easier molding of their prefrontal cortex (responsible for higher cognitive functions and memory) and as such learn faster. ("Growth Engineering") They are exposed to new situations, new stimuli AND they possess an extensive degree of CURIOSITY. The curiosity to be "in the know" about everything makes children more receptive to picking up new skills. This curiosity is sadly what we lose overtime as we age. An adult on the contrary have already learned many things through school and life experiences. The greatest hindrance to adult learning in my opinion is getting out of the mindset that we cannot learn as effectively and efficiently vs our younger selves. The reality is, we are always forming new neurons every time we encounter something new. Every week when I write these blogs I am reflecting, thinking and practicing my writing skills!

In fact being an older student has a lot of advantages that we often don't think about. When we take further study later in our lives we do so under different circumstances that actually forces us to be more effective and efficient in our learning style. Here's why!


 

1) Making a choice to learn something new rather than feeling like it is a motion that you have to go through (ie. formal schooling) shows that you know what you want. Wanting to learn something rather than being told/expected of creates that inner spark and motivation that changes our whole outlook and learning process!

 2) As an adult you have already accomplished so much in life - schooling, career, family and other pursuits. Because you have already done so much, your learning curve is limitless! You have proven to yourself that you have discipline or else you would not have been able to achieve all that you have!

 3) A huge part of life is about balance - balancing school, piano lessons, track and field, friends and family, work and many other things. This balancing act is teaching us how to manage our time and the older we get, whether you realize it or not, our time management skills are much more evolved later in life than in our younger years. We have much more going on and more responsibilities to tend to but in combination with our discipline and wanting to learn something new, we will always make time for our passion, dreams and pursuits - speaking from personal experience.

 4) We have made many mistakes and have had more time learn from them (hopefully). We know what works for us and what doesn't. By creating an environment that sets you up for success and encourages maximum learning gives you the determination and conviction to achieve your goals!

 5) In this day and age, learning is literally at the palm of our hands! With the exponential advancement of technology, accessibility to all the world's knowledge is greater than ever. Learning can be done from the comfort of your own home, flexible and allow you to continue to balance work, family and life in general!


For those of you who still have doubts, take my mom for example. She is 70 years old and for those who have met her knows that I am not joking when I say that she looks and acts like she's 50! #asiangenetics I admire my mom a lot for a lot of things - her character, her strength, her compassion, her discipline and of course her knack for learning. She's been retired for a few years already and has taken on some new skills. She goes to Tai Chi class, she's learning how to bake and cook new dishes for us still, and as seen below, she is learning the art of Chinese calligraphy and she is improving every week - pretty amazing and I'm very proud of her!

And for me, being a fairly seasoned "start-out" musician and singer-songwriter amongst my extremely talented peers, I often thought that I would never be able to level up with them. But I recently took the leap of faith to create the environment to learn and expand myself as a musician, singer-songwriter, performer and as a person. I have been taking voice lessons for the past 2 months, re-learning the piano basics, learning up to 3 songs every week, watching videos, practicing and buying books on the theory of jazz, neosoul music so that I can write better and richer songs. I think I"m on the right track because my voice teacher has even said I've improved so much in such a short amount of time! YES! Exactly what I needed to hear from a professional!

If you are ever doubting yourself, remember it's all in your mind - if you put your mind to it, you can learn anything at any age! What are you waiting for? What are you currently learning now or want to learn in the new future? I'd like to know! Share below!

ALSO! HUGE SHOUT OUT TO DIANA LYNNE - she is a fellow blogger, teacher and entrepreneur who took the time to send me a kind message about how she appreciates my blogs and websites. This small act of kindness made my whole weekend and is the reason why I do what I do - to get conversations going and to perhaps help someone stuck in a rut. Please please check out Diana Lynne's blog site, "Life is for Living - Living Fully & Courageously" because what she has to say may just change you! The power of a simple message - thank you Diana!

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