Nobody wants to find themselves in a mid-career plateau or bored at work.
Careers can be rewarding, exciting and the source of growth and exposure to new ideas, but it’s easy to reach a point where you’re no longer learning or growing. If you want to excel in your career, get promoted and find satisfaction in your work, continuing to grow and learn will ensure you never wake up on a Monday morning dreading the week ahead.
There are many ways to keep your growth going, many of which you can start implementing today!
First, what do you want to learn and why? It may be helpful to make a list of what you need or want to learn and figure out how it will help your career or make your workday more enjoyable.
Ask For New Challenges
Perhaps you’ve been in your position for several years. You know the job, you know your coworkers and the chance of anything new happening to really exercise your brain is slim to none. You enjoy the work, but the repetition is starting to make each day feel the same and, the last time you learned something, it was because your favorite lunch spot got a new item on the menu.
However, this doesn’t have to continue forever. It may be helpful to talk with your manager and let them know you’re looking to continue learning and growing; they’ll be glad to hear it and may want to understand how you’ll be spending some of your time at work differently than before.
But don’t be afraid to take initiative. Come up with some ideas as to what you can do to learn and grow. We’ll start with a few ideas:
- Shadow someone from a different team or department
- Take the CEO or a Director out to lunch to learn more about their job
- Ask to sit in on a meeting you wouldn’t normally be part of
- Find a project that keeps getting put off or that isn’t assigned to anyone
- Visit another branch or office in your company
- Take a client out for coffee solely to learn about how they work best
It’s important to keep your job performance just as high as before when learning new things, but it’s likely your proactive approach to growing will get noticed.
Learn From Others
Even if you’re not a surgeon where this learning method is best known, you can still benefit from what it brings you.
The idea of the “See One, Do One, Teach One” method is that by witnessing, doing and then teaching you’ll learn most effectively and pass on knowledge.
Find something you don’t know much about. Perhaps you never quite mastered Excel or there’s one area of the business you don’t know much about because it isn’t relevant to your role, but it interests you. Most people are happy to take some time out of their day to teach someone. Learn from them, ask question and then try it yourself.
By witnessing how something is done and then doing it, you’re activating different parts of your brain and helping the information stick.
And that brings us to our next point...
Using what you learned from your colleague, find someone who also could benefit from your knowledge. Teach an intern or a junior team member. Not only will you further cement this information into your brain, you may learn a thing or two about management and leadership.
You may be the master of your job and know a great deal about a few specific topics. Find out if you can teach all incoming employees about your role and the topics you consider yourself to be an expert in. Propose scheduling a “lunch and learn” one day and give a presentation on something your colleagues will find useful. You’ll learn about public speaking, preparing a presentation and how to train others.
Get a Mentor
Even if you’re an expert, there are still experts who know even more than you do! Whether you want to diversify your knowledge or get even more experienced and educated about what you do, a mentor can be a huge help.
They can work one-on-one with you, help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, give advice about your career, suggest ways to accomplish your goals and teach you about how they’ve handled their career growth.
Your mentor may be someone at work, a family friend or someone who you admire but don’t know. If it’s the latter, reach out to them via email or LinkedIn and see if they’re at least open to having a brief discussion. It’s never a bad idea to make an offer to them so you can be of value as well, for example, asking how you could be of help to them. It may require you to do some extra work, take on a small part of a project or introduce them to someone in your network.
Learn Outside of Work
Lifelong learning is important. It keeps your brain healthy and sets you up for better opportunities in your career and personal life.
But don’t limit yourself to learning only at work! Even if what you’re seeking is career related learning, getting a refresher course on learning something new can help prepare your mind and remind it how to absorb information.
Maybe you’re an accountant and learning how to build a birdhouse won’t help you become a CPA. Perhaps you’re a nurse and learning how to speak Portuguese won’t help you with your patients. As a chef, learning how to mix and produce music as a DJ won’t make your knife skills any better.
However, there’s plenty of research that shows learning keeps your brain growing and developing— and even shows that learning develops parts of the brain that help you learn more!
Even if it feels like a waste of time or irrelevant to pick up a hobby, learn how to paint, speak a second language or study ancient Egyptian history, this learning will make you more susceptible to learn while on the job, priming your brain to grow and change.
Continue Your Education
One of the most effective and impactful ways to learn and grow is, of course, learning from experts in an environment that is focused on growth with qualified teachers who are experts in helping their students learn.
Whether you’re hoping to reach the next level in a hospitality job, expand your skills to include management and leadership abilities or simply learn something new outside of your career, like how to operate in a professional kitchen, there are options that will ensure you keep growing.
The good news? Many companies offer education reimbursement meaning you may be able to learn and grow on the company’s budget.
Never Stop Learning and Growing
“I am still learning.”
That’s not exactly what you’d expect to hear from the brilliant artist, poet and architect who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Michelangelo. And yet, Michaelangelo was a lifelong learner and student whose many accomplishments are a result of his love for learning.
No matter your career, calling or interests, continuing to learn is common among people who achieve big things, make progress and live happy and fulfilled lives with enjoyable careers.
How will you start growing and learning today?