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The end of the school semester is always a time of relief.  After months of reading and learning and working under pressure, finally it’s break time.  The mind can relax and not have to think about anything.  Ahhhh.  Blessed idleness.

Idleness after an intense period of work or study is fine—even helpful and rejuvenating.  But ongoing idleness is never a good idea.  In order to stay on the cutting edge of your field, you must look at learning as a necessity, not as an option.

What is continuing education?

Continuing education is simply intentional learning that takes place after the formal years of schooling have ended.  It can be as structured as an additional degree or as informal as reading books and attending conferences that sharpen your skills and keep you abreast of new developments and concepts.

While in school, we learn basic skills and concepts that prepare us for entering the workforce and getting started in our chosen field.  But the world we live in is not the same world that we graduated into—even for recent graduates.  New knowledge is being discovered every day. Technology changes faster than we can keep up with it.  And much of what used to be regarded as unchangeable truth has been replaced by new facts and proven theories.T

Those who do not intentionally pursue continuing education will find themselves left behind. Even if the science in your particular field does not change quickly, the methods for organizing, implementing and handling that knowledge will change.  Unless you can keep up with the changing landscape, you will be ineffective and increasingly unproductive.  Your peers and clients will soon regard you as unwilling to move with the times, and that could have negative effects on your livelihood. 

Continuing education increases your value no matter what field you are in.  And value is crucial in order to keep your edge and be considered as an indispensable member of your team.  Uninformed team members are expendable.

Ideas for Continuing Education

Your continuing education can take whatever form you desire.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • College or university classes (local or distance learning)
  • Conferences in your field of expertise
  • Online courses
  • Class in a box—DVD and workbook courses
  • Reading books by industry experts
  • Studying under a mentor in your profession
  • Networking events (these often feature a speaker or forum before a time of mingling; both are valuable for continuing education and learning about new trends in your industry).

Any effort you put into keeping your skills, abilities and knowledge up to date will keep you ahead of your competition and increase your potential—you can always be a better version of yourself!