13 July 2023

Why self-learning is important.

Happy person working from home

We’ve previously talked about learning at work and lifelong learning. Learning at work was focused on a type of learning defined by its location. Lifelong learning was a type of learning defined by its duration. And now, we’d like to talk about self-learning - a type of learning defined by how you do it.

What is self-learning?

Self-learning is a way of teaching yourself new skills without the aid of an instructor. If done correctly it can produce the best results since you know yourself the best, and you know what suits you. It's a great way to get ahead and gain knowledge without having to leave the comfort of your own home. Plus, you can take things at your own pace - no need to keep up with anyone else. 

It can be done through textbooks, online tutorials, and even Google searches if you know what you're looking for. Also, it is great for those that like to learn by doing and that like to draw lessons from trial and error. But, taking this approach entails not having someone to point you in the right direction when you get stuck or to give you advice when they see you heading into a problem. You need to have discipline and tenacity in order not to give up. 

In the end, it’s up to you. If you’re an independent learner with knowledge of strategies and approaches then self-learning is definitely the route for you.

How is it different from lifelong learning?

This is where it gets a bit complicated. While there are differences, at the end of the day they’re one and the same. But not really. Every self-learning journey is also a lifelong learning journey. But not every lifelong learning journey is a self-learning one.

This is due to the fact that you can take part in lifelong learning by applying to a course. This means a structured teaching/learning experience where knowledge is transferred to you and you have the support of a teacher, instructor, or mentor. But you can also experience lifelong learning through self-learning by taking up a hobby or a new skill, motivated intrinsically, any time in your life without applying to a course. 

At the end of the day, it’s more important to take part in lifelong learning in any way, shape, or form possible. Whether this takes part in a more formal or classroom setting or by you playing around and figuring things out for yourself isn’t really the point. As Transcom likes to say, we’re lifelong learners. So, the point is to learn and keep learning.

Why is self-learning important and what are its benefits?

It’s important, if nothing else then for two simple reasons: control and personal progress. It allows you to take ownership of your learning journey, which means that you can develop and progress at your own pace. The second reason is important because by self-learning you also improve as a person, not just at the skill you’re learning or knowledge you’re acquiring. Now that we know why self-learning is important, let’s take a closer look at the benefits it has over other types of learning.

Bringing emotions into learning.

Self-learning means that you’re invested in whatever it is you’re focusing on. It comes from a personal wish to grow and be better. It’s the purest form of motivation and the strongest form of investment, leading to determination and results. 

Also, because you’re learning by yourself, some obstacles will be bigger than usual. But that’s not a problem, it’s a benefit. That means that the sense of satisfaction you get from overcoming it will be bigger than usual. 

Other skills are affected.

Learning is never done in a vacuum. If you’re trying to get better at photo editing, for example, you will also become a better photographer because you know what you want to achieve and how to achieve it. 

Also, your self-learning skill gets better as well, making future learning easier. You’ll start to know your habits and preferences better. Through trial and error, you’ll find out which methods and processes work and which don’t. Learning more means becoming a proficient learner.

Suits you specifically. 

In teaching, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to cast a wide net but be prepared to change your approach with every topic, with every student, with every day. In the case of self-learning, you know how you learn. You know that if you’re a visual learner you’ll have to prepare some cards or illustrations. If you learn through hearing you’ll record yourself so that you can listen to it later. 

You are the creator of the program you’ll be “attending” and you’re its only student. Make it perfect for yourself.

Fluid and flexible. 

Learning is also an ever-changing process. A thing that was at the top of your priority list can drop significantly the very next day. In a conventional setting, it’s very hard to change course or start anew. Not here.

During your learning journey, you may find something new of interest that you would like to pursue further. Why not? Go for it. You’re the captain of this ship, and no one can stop you.

How to get started on the right track.

While this is your journey and your journey alone it’s never a bad idea to hear out some general advice and incorporate some into what you feel is right. What’s our advice?

Leave your comfort zone.

Learning is all about pushing boundaries. You can’t learn if you don’t go out of your way to make yourself uncomfortable. Do you think you’re bad at art? Start painting. Hate the written word? Try creative writing. 

Those areas, while uncomfortable, will yield the most progress in the short run, keeping you motivated. A great boost of confidence is also realizing you can do the things you thought you couldn’t. There’s nothing you can lose in that situation because if you end up failing, at least you tried and you should be applauded for trying new things.

Graphic showing general advice for self-learning

Keep in mind your strengths.

While finding the new and exploring your weaknesses is great, you shouldn’t ignore your strengths. They are what makes you ‘you’ and you should always strive to improve them or to use them in new ways. 

Also, if your strengths can help you in learning something new then they have to be utilized in order to reach your goals. It’s not cheating, it’s building a network of strengths that help and improve each other.

Raise the bar, and create a challenge.

You should always aim high. Push yourself. Make yourself better. Without a challenge, there is no progress. If something seems hard that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Try it out. Failure is just a different form of learning. 

Make clear, attainable goals.

But, you shouldn’t be overly ambitious. Setting too high a bar can severely impact morale and motivation if you keep falling short. This means that you should set many smaller, attainable goals so as not to get overwhelmed.

Evaluate yourself.

In the end, there is no learning without reflection. You need to keep thinking about your progress and if you can improve somewhere. Also, if you’re doing better than expected, why not try to set a bit of a bigger challenge? You might surprise yourself even more.


In conclusion.

We’ve talked about this before and we’ll talk about it again. Learning is important. Learning is beautiful. It’s what makes us human. Your curiosity should be the driving force behind most of the things that you do. If you’re that type of person, and you want to be surrounded by likeminded people, apply for Transcom. We would love to have you.