While the theme of this month is lifelong learning, you might be wondering what it’s really about. Well, it’s simply the practice of continuously developing our skills, knowledge, and personal growth throughout our entire life. Fret not, it goes beyond traditional education and formal schooling and emphasises the importance of learning in various forms - so there’s no need to beat yourself up for those things you weren’t so good at at school, nor do you suddenly need to try to rebuild these skills.
Lifelong learning has gained significant attention in recent years due to the rapidly changing nature of work, technology, and society. It is seen as essential for personal and professional development, adaptability, and overall well-being.
When it comes to our wellbeing, and taking care of it, learning new things, trying new hobbies, taking on challenges and engaging in lifelong learning can help to keep the bad times at bay and our functioning like a well-oiled machine. But we can also look inwards, and learn about ourselves - that’s the best thing we can do to learn how we can cope better with everyday life.
Self-awareness is the ability to consciously perceive, recognise, and understand our own thoughts, emotions, behaviours, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. It involves being aware of our internal states, beliefs, and values, and how they influence actions and interactions with the world - which might sound complicated, but think of it as knowing yourself and what drives you.
It can manifest in two primary forms:
Internal Self-awareness: This involves introspection and self-reflection. It means having a deep understanding of your own thoughts, feelings, and personal characteristics. Internal self-awareness allows you to recognise your emotional responses, understand your thought processes, and have insight into your own behaviour.
External Self-awareness: This form of self-awareness involves understanding how others perceive you. It means being aware of the impact your actions and words have on other people. External self-awareness can help you adjust your behaviour to align with your intentions and be more effective in your interactions with others.
Self-awareness is a critical aspect of emotional intelligence and personal development. It allows us to make more informed decisions, improve our relationships, manage our emotions effectively, and pursue personal and professional growth. Developing self-awareness often involves practices like self-reflection, mindfulness, journaling, seeking feedback from others, and engaging in reflective activities to gain deeper insights into our thoughts and emotions.
Here's how self-awareness and lifelong learning are connected to our well-being:
Identification of Learning Needs: Self-awareness allows us to recognise our strengths, weaknesses, interests, and areas for improvement. This awareness helps us identify what we need to learn (and how we best do that) or develop to achieve personal and professional goals. Without self-awareness, it's challenging to pinpoint areas where growth is necessary.
Motivation and Goal Setting: Self-aware individuals are more likely to set meaningful goals for themselves. They understand their values and passions, which can help them choose learning opportunities that align with their aspirations. This sense of purpose and alignment boosts motivation for lifelong learning.
Adaptability: Self-awareness enables individuals to recognise when they need to acquire new knowledge or skills to adapt to changing circumstances. In today's fast-paced world, adaptability is a critical skill for our well-being, as it helps us remain relevant and resilient in our careers and personal lives.
Emotional Intelligence: Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence. It helps individuals understand their emotions, how they affect their actions and decisions, and how they influence their relationships with others. Emotional intelligence is vital for maintaining healthy relationships, which contribute significantly to overall well-being.
Self-Reflection: Lifelong learners often engage in self-reflection, which is an integral part of self-awareness. Through self-reflection, individuals can assess their progress, identify areas where they need improvement, and adjust their learning strategies accordingly. This continuous self-assessment contributes to personal growth and well-being.
Resilience: When we’re self-aware we are better equipped to handle setbacks and failures. We can recognise when we need to learn from our mistakes and adapt our strategies accordingly. This resilience is essential for maintaining mental and emotional well-being in the face of challenges.
Personal Fulfilment: Lifelong learning that is aligned with our self-awareness can lead to a sense of personal fulfilment and purpose. When we engage in learning activities that resonate with our interests and values, they are more likely to experience a deep sense of satisfaction and well-being.
Self-awareness and lifelong learning are interconnected because self-awareness enhances an individual's ability to identify learning needs, set meaningful goals, adapt to change, develop emotional intelligence, engage in self-reflection, build resilience, and find personal fulfilment. All of these elements contribute to a higher overall sense of well-being and personal growth throughout one's life. Have you selected your healthy habit yet? Pick the Copingwell topic and start boosting your self-awareness today, engage in lifelong learning and feel a little bit better about life.