The best gift you can give yourself this season isn’t the latest gadget on a Black Friday sale but the gift to be open to learning new things. I absolutely love to learn, and in all honesty, if college was free, I’d be a perpetual student enrolled forever. However, there are ways to improve your skill set that doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Why is it important to keep learning? Being open to learning not only helps you in your professional life but also improves your skills as a writer and helps you become a more self-aware individual. On the other hand, having a know-it-all attitude stunts our growth and can potentially tarnish our relationships. Let’s face it, no one wants to be around someone who thinks they have the answer to everything. While we can be experts in a particular field, things are constantly evolving. There’s new software, innovative strategies to market products, advancements in technology, and a butt-load of skills that we’ve yet to learn.
Whether you’re a writer, working professional, or somewhere in between, even learning to manage your time properly so that you can participate in NaNoWriMo is a skill set to be discovered. This is especially true, for example, if you’re used to expecting yourself to write long word counts in one sitting. What if work, kids, and general life responsibilities get in the way? Learning to write in shorter sprints throughout the day might actually help, if not now, in the future. It’s the same in our professional lives. Have you ever read certain skill sets or software listed in job postings that you feel you want to get better at? There are ways to polish your abilities in inexpensive ways.
Ways To Keep Learning That Doesn’t Break The Bank
LinkedIn Paid Membership: For a monthly cost of $29.99, LinkedIn paid memberships come with a lot. The paid membership is awesome if you’re looking for a career change, but it’s also good practice to network with other members and expand your professional circle. And no, I don’t work for LinkedIn, but I find their learning courses to be outstanding. In addition to networking opportunities, you get an unlimited amount of online learning courses for the cost of a monthly membership. It’s totally worth it if you love to learn or looking to improve your marketability.
The benefit of this is that you can refreshen your skills, upgrade them, or get stronger in an area you feel can be improved. I LOVE LinkedIn courses! I’ve taken several, and when you’re done with them, you’re able to list your LinkedIn certification on your profile and on your resume, too! I’m telling you, LinkedIn learning courses has everything you can think of. Type in anything, and they have a course on it. I’m not kidding! If you’re a perpetual learner like me, it’s great for professional career improvements as well as personal passions. There are tons and tons of professional classes available for just about any career path.
However, they’ve got fun and creative classes for writers such as editing and proofreading, rewriting, crafting dynamic characters, crafting a story classes, and so much more.
Adult Education Extension Courses: There are continued learning classes at community colleges, local libraries, and adult continued courses through recreation centers. After COVID, however, everything has gone online. Online learning has proliferated due to the pandemic, and there’s not a shortage of affordable education opportunities. Continued education classes can improve self-esteem, open up your network, provide opportunities to meet new friends, and learn a new hobby that might improve your mental health. There are also professional certifications like the LinkedIn classes and also Facebook Blueprint courses for social media and marketing professionals like myself. I’ve just completed 8 online Facebook Blueprint certification courses that were free, and each offered a specialization. It was satisfying when Facebook rewarded me with 8 certifications of completion under the Facebook Creative Strategy For Professionals certification specialty. Courses such as these can only strengthen your skills and what you have to offer future employers.
Trade Watching TV For Books: During the pandemic, Netflix couldn’t keep up with the demand in terms of new binge-worthy TV shows and movies. If you noticed, they’ve really increased their outreach and have purchased more foreign-made entertainment, many of which are dubbed or captioned in English. If you’ve guiltily watched everything under the sun and powered your way through Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services, you might reconsider stopping yourself from scouring your streaming services in an effort to scrounge for more content to consume that will numb or help you escape.
Try escaping with a book, instead. Already do? Here’s a concept….how about you read MORE! You don’t have to spend a ton of cash at Barnes & Nobles or Amazon, either. There’s your local library and even an app like OverDrive that’s linked directly with your library. You can download audiobooks and eBooks from your favorite authors absolutely free. Reading can really help improve your skills as a writer. It’s the best way to learn plot, story structure, character development, style, and voice. Reading books is a very affordable way to expand your learning and skill set.
Reading more can also include beta reading fellow aspiring author’s work. How does this improve your skills? Beta reading enables you to catch mistakes in others and sharpen your editorial abilities to learn how to catch your own line errors, character issues, plot holes, story structure problems, incorrect pacing, and so much more.
The Bottom Line
Being an inflexible know-it-all isn’t the best way to win fellow co-worker’s hearts and be a team player. It’s also not a way to approach your creative ambitions as a writer. I’ve met some writers that are inflexible and unwilling to take feedback. There’s a benefit to being open to learning, open to criticism, feedback, and expanding your knowledge. When you grow in your professional life and personal life, you evolve as a person. Learning not only improves your marketability in all aspects of your life, but it makes you more of a magnet. People want to be around humble people who are willing to learn. Humility is beautiful, and so is being a student for life willing and able to keep growing.