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Is a commitment to lifelong learning one of your New Year resolutions?

Millions of people worldwide made New Year’s resolutions a few days ago. They typically vowed to stop smoking, lose weight or go to the gym; this begs the question – how people made the life-changing resolution, to commit to lifelong learning?

The resolve to commit to lifelong learning, to learn something new, to acquire new skills should be top of one’s list. If you have not already done so, there is good news – it is never too late to add a commitment to lifelong learning to your list.

However, adding a resolution to one’s list is not enough – resolutions need goals, action steps, timelines and monitoring. Unless these are in place, resolutions are likely to remain good intentions, rather than achievements. Incredibly, research reveals that only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are ever achieved.

Lifelong learning is a prerequisite for survival in the 21st-century workplace. The recent World Economic Forum report concerning “The future of jobs,” reminds us that skills have a limited shelf life in a world characterised by disruptive technology changes of mobile technologies, big data, new energies and the internet of things. Have you factored in the impact of these changes on your current skills set and existing knowledge and also implemented action steps to ensure that your skills are up to date?

The report identifies the top skills needed in 2020 as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, co-ordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgement and decision making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility. Which of these skills are you going to hone in 2017 and what strategies have you put in place to ensure your success?

Knowledge also has a limited shelf-life. Writing in 2013 David Russell Schilling said knowledge doubled every 12 months and would soon double every 12 months. Even if you only graduated five years ago, much of what you learnt is out of date. The most important thing you can do to ensure your relevance, and your ability to keep earning, is to commit to continue learning.

Limited time and limited funds are no longer valid excuses for not embracing lifelong learning. The internet is awash with resources to update one’s skills and knowledge and many of these offerings are free. Commit today to spending at least an hour per day to ensure that your skills and knowledge remains relevant.

Useful resources include TED Talks, edX, Coursera and Blinklist. Manage your time wisely, get up an hour earlier, listen to audiobooks on the way to work, spend an hour reading work-related literature daily. Ensure that your skills are relevant and that you are at the top of your game.

The choice is yours – will 2017 be just another year, or will 2017 be the start of your exciting journey as a lifelong learner?

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