In several parts of the world (particularly here in the United States), January is the month of New Year’s resolutions.
This time-honored (timeworn?) commitment to self-improvement is often earnestly proclaimed as soon as the clock strikes midnight. “resolutions”. According to recent research, learning something new is number four on the list of top 10 New Year resolutions1.
Because of decades and centuries of failed resolutions, nowdays, we often are instructed to stop using the term “resolutions” and use others like “intention” “reset” or “refresh”. I prefer using the term “reboot”; mostly because this term is familiar to many of us.
A Life-Long Learning Reboot: We reboot our computers when we observe the “spinning pinwheel of death” that shows up when the screen freezes after you just broke through your writer’s block and typed up a brilliant paragraph. Now, we don’t just throw the computer out the window (although, yes, I have been tempted to do so on occasion. Admit it – so have you). We take a deep breath, hope that we saved the document, and do a reboot.
Rebooting is more than intention to change a habit or behavior that is overwhelming, outdated, isn’t working properly, is stuck or “frozen”. It is an action. Before we go into how rebooting helps support life-long learning, let’s discuss a few more actions that may help you get ready.
Rethinking. Rethinking may be looking at how you can apply something you already know to the new skill. It can also be simply rethinking those myths or self-defeating beliefs and taking on a growth versus a fixed mindset2. “I’m 50 and I can’t learn a new language”. Now, I may not be able to learn Spanish as quickly at 50 as I would have at 10 through traditional methods; however, it could be I need a different approach rather than listening to courses from an online subscription. Perhaps I need to have more social interaction or have an immersive experience. This leads us to retooling.
Retooling. Retooling means to find the right learning supports to help you reboot. Often, people think they need to take a course. But as L&D professionals, we all know that there are a variety of inclusive and effective ways to retool. A colleague may have sent you a great new book on instructional design – set up a virtual “book club” with colleagues and mentors to discuss ways to integrate the concepts into practice. Based on constructivist theory3, retooling does not have to be a solo flight. Self-directed learning does not necessarily mean to go it alone.
Next month: Ways to reboot and keep it going! Talk to us: What plans do you have for life-long learning this year? What do you want to rethink and retool? Weigh in on LinkedIN.
Dr. Norina Columbaro has over 20 years experience as an award-winning talent and organizational development leadership partner. Besides heading up Performance for Life Consulting, she serves as an IACET Instructor, and has been a Commissioner, Chair of the Council, and has successfully completed the process to become an IACET Accredited Provider (AP) in a previous leadership position (so she knows what it's like to be an applicant!).
She is a Registered Corporate Coach (RCC) and a Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC). She also holds a Ph.D. from Cleveland State University in Urban Education, specializing in Leadership and Life-Long Learning.
Norina's research and work have been published in Adult Learning, The International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Human Resource Development Quarterly, and on Military.com.