Are you following a Lifelong Learning Strategy?
Learning never stops. If you are reading these lines, you are probably keen to embrace the philosophy of Continuous Education. Or perhaps you just want to understand what the concept of Lifelong Learning is all about.
If I had to give you my definition:
Lifelong Learning, or Continuous Education, is the voluntary commitment to improve our knowledge, skills and competence throughout our lifetime.
The advice to continue learning is an evergreen speech topic at graduation ceremonies. And the term of lifelong learning has been ingrained in the minds of academics for more than 25 years.
However, over recent years, this term has gained more and more recognition among the general workforce. Continuous learning during one’s lifetime has vital advantages for everyone, no matter what age or level of education.
In this article about Continuous Education, I particularly want to address freelancing professionals.
For the simple reason that:
If you are self-employed it is harder to integrate a regular learning strategy into the busy lifestyle.
Unlike your employed colleague, where a package with courses and in-company training is kindly prepared by the HR department, you will have to organise everything from scratch.
Consequently, there is a danger that if you don’t make a conscious effort to prepare for education, you will simply forget.
So what are the benefits of a lifelong learning habit?
Keeping up to date will pay out
Whatever field you are freelancing in, the world is constantly changing and you need to keep up with it. What’s worse, new information is being churned out at an incredible rate and getting more complex, too. Without an organised strategy, one can easily get drowned in the floods of published literature and electronic information out there and lose out.
It is a known fact that people who keep up with the latest information and technology will get more jobs and better pay.
As a writer or translator in the medical fields, you have to be particularly careful keeping on top of new therapies, diagnostics and preventions. These developments are happening at an incredible pace – just look at immunotherapies.
What’s more, new therapies and treatment methods come hand in hand with new vocabulary: Neologisms – a crucial part of medical writing.
Similarly, Medical content is becoming more and more gender neutral, patient-centred and aims to wipe out Stigma.
Increase your self esteem
Even though it is often a struggle to learn new skills and linked to stepping out of your confidence zone, the feeling of accomplishing it is most invigorating.
It is not unusual that a learning session will spice up the freelance routine and result in new friendships.
It’s the perfect confidence booster to put you on top of the world.
Clients have expectations for the highest possible quality.
If you want to deliver a top-notch product to your clients, you need to have your finger on the pulse.
Your new gained confidence will be noticed when discussing future assignments with your prospects and you will come across more professional.
Don’t just do it for your job – do it for yourself
To enrol in a course and to get a certificate because you must, is not necessarily the ultimate objective.
The philosophy of lifelong learning aims more at keeping yourself motivated, at feeding the desire for more knowledge and to open your mind.
The ideas of Lifelong Learning is to add new dimensions to your life and to strive for self-fulfilment.
Some authors go as far as saying that we need Lifelong Learning to find meaning in our lives.
Lifelong Benefits from Lifelong Learning
A lifetime of learning can keep body and mind in good shape. It is an established fact that continuous cognitive activity has a beneficial effect on the brain and helps to keep you mentally sharp.
According to research:
People with more education are less likely to develop dementia in the older age.
The habit of Lifelong Learning can also include physical learning such as exercise or dance classes. You could be taking up a new sport or learn how to play the piano. Lifelong learning means enhancing the things that give you vigour, that build your personality and expand your horizon – and making it a habit.
When we are learning we are very much engaged in life and more often than not interacting with other people. There are many positive effects on our interpersonal skills liked to continuous learning.
In a publication from 2012, Marjan Laal has performed an in-depth analysis of Lifelong Learning (LLL) and its benefits. Read more
Tips for medical linguists to develop a lifelong learning strategy:
Make a conscious decision to learn
Put some time aside for your lifelong learning – even if you have a busy schedule. If you are a freelancer like me, use the “quiet time” to delve into some medical updates or increase the knowledge in your specialist field.
Use digital tools to learn:
Online journals are a great way to keep up to date with discoveries, important studies and hot topics. If you don’t have a subscription, use Twitter to follow journals such as NEJM, JAMA, BMJ or the Lancet.
A useful free online platform is Medscape (you might need to register) which gives you up to date information on many health topics and can be consulted as a compendium for many pathologies. (It even has a German version!)
Medical blogs can be a good source to get information about recent studies. But be careful, too many of them are simply “clickbait” and go down the tabloid press path. I will be writing a blog post about “useful” and “not so useful” health blogs in the next month.
Learn through writing
This is an old tip, but still effective. After reading an article, write a summary in your own words. And if you are a translator, do it in your target language. This is an excellent method consolidate your knowledge and to practise your linguistic skills.
To sum up
Lifelong Learning will keep you up to date with the latest standards, technologies and terminologies. It is the strategy that boosts your confidence and prevents you from falling behind.
It will not only make for a happier paycheck but equally enrich your life. With a lifelong thirst for knowledge, your mind will keep sharp for years to come.