This post is Part 2 of my Build an Intentional Life series. Go back and read Part One here.
I was introduced to the concept of personal development the way a lot of kids in the ’90s were, sitting on my grandma’s living room floor after school watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Back then it was called “self-help” but I’ve always felt like that was an icky term. That makes me feel like there is something wrong with you that needs helping. But long before I had an actual term for it, I was a personal development junkie.
As a kid and then a young adult I gravitated toward stories where the character betters their life in some way or sets off on some kind of soul-seeking journey. Some high school movie favorites included Under the Tuscan Sun, Elizabethtown (still one of my favorite movie soundtracks) and Eat Pray Love. These characters and their stories inspired me and introduced me to the notion of being self-aware and trying to better one’s self or go on an emotional journey.
Here we are many, many years later and I am still every bit the personal development junkie I once was and somewhere inside of me is still that little girl sitting on her grandma’s floor watching Oprah.
Your mind grows what you feed it. Words have the power of life and death. My aim over the last 7 years or so has been to fill my brain with as much of the good stuff as possible. I truly believe that no matter how old you get you should constantly learning and growing.
If you’re done trying to become a better version of yourself than you were yesterday then what’s the point. I sure hope I’m not the same person I was at 19 or 27 and I really hope when I’m 42 or 58 that I’m not the same person I am today. If I’m not consistently growing and changing for the better, then I may as well throw in the towel today.
I try to live my life intentionally, every single day. You can read more about why here.
ways to learn
There are so many different ways in this day and age to learn new things, acquire new skills and take new classes. If you have the desire and the drive to learn there are limitless options.
I’m typically on the go, running errands, picking one kid up at school only to rush home to meet another one getting off the school bus. I spend a significant amount of time in my car and rather than just listening to the radio I like to fill my brain with new and interesting things. I try to keep most everything I’m listening to very PG since there are almost always little ears in the backseat. But the way I see it, my kids will grow up hearing uplifting and motivational content every single day as we drive and that can’t be a bad thing.
There are so many options out there for podcasts that aren’t just of the entertainment variety. Later in this intentional living series, I will share with you my top picks for podcasts I just can’t get enough of and why I love them.
2. Online Learning
One of the coolest things I’ve discovered in the last few years is Skillshare. It’s basically an online database of courses in nearly any topic you can think of. Want to take a photography class to finally figure out that DSLR you have? Want to start a blog like this one? Want to learn how to edit live sound? Want to learn how to play the piano?
There are literally thousands of classes in areas ranging from creative hobbies (like hand lettering, weaving, and crocheting) to life skills (like learning a second language or basic knife skills in the kitchen) to business building (like leadership, SEO and social media marketing strategies)
If there’s something you’ve been dying to learn but don’t have the time or the money to drive to a physical, local class then Skillshare is a cost-effective and portable option to learn a new skill.
You can try it out for 2 months completely for FREE and learn that new thing you’ve been talking about forever.
Books have been the ultimate learning tool for hundreds of years, so why try to reinvent the wheel? I have learned so much valuable information from books through the years that I have then gone on to apply to my everyday life. Books on topics from parenting to productivity to marriage have had a drastic impact on my life.
With two kids and a hectic schedule it can often get pretty difficult to find time to read; enter the audiobook. I really got into audiobooks a few years ago and I truly think they are the most magical thing ever invented.
Whenever I’m doing a mindless, housework chore chances are I have my headphones in listening to an audiobook. Bluetooth headphones have seriously been a game-changer for my reading life, oddly enough. These ones are my favorites and work perfect for both casual audiobook listening and running. In the car, if I’m not listening to a podcast I almost always have an audiobook on.
I use the Libby app to check out books and audiobooks from my local library. With the amount that I read this saves me a significant amount of money. Be on the lookout for a future post about all the strategies I use to read so many books without breaking the bank.
3. Trade/Craft Classes
If you have the ability and the time, taking a class that is local to you is a fantastic way to learn a new skill or hobby. There are several chains across the US that offer classes in different areas. There should also be stores and studios in your area, like dance studios, jiu-jitsu studios or pottery places, that offer classes for locals.
Here are just a few ideas of some nationwide chains who offer classes:
Joanns– They offer classes in everything from crocheting to quilting to jewelry making.
Michaels– The offer a Make Break class with various seasonal craft projects. In certain metropolitan areas, Michaels also offers the community classroom which connects local makers with students ready to learn a skill. In my area, there are classes on arm knitting, oil pastels, and henna body art just to name a few.
Woodcraft– A class at Woodcraft has been on my wish list for a long time. They offer hands-on woodworking classes in skills ranging from a Table Saw/Jointer/Planer beginners class to an Intro to Turning class. They have even recently started offering date night classes to make anything from cornhole boards to cutting boards.
Check-in your area for a local business, YMCA or rec center and it just might surprise you the number of classes that are available to you locally.
Learn because you can
The things that you’re learning don’t have to make you money. Let me say that a little louder. The things that you’re learning don’t have to make you money.
Our culture puts such a significance on monetary success. It tells you that you should pursue monetary success at the detriment of all else. But you don’t have to learn something just because it’s going to make you money, though that’s certainly one of many valid reasons to never stop learning.
You can learn how to successfully conquer social media marketing and SEO in order to take your business to the next level and earn more money. But you can just as easily learn how to do aerial acrobatics for no reason other than it makes you happy. In both cases, you’re still growing and developing and becoming a more whole and wise version of yourself.
Don’t let the pursuit of monetary gain derail the things that you desperately want to learn.
It’s also never too late to learn. God willing I will be learning till the day that I die. Don’t ever feel as though that ship has sailed. There is always time. You can always grow.
When I was a kid a friend’s mom took dance classes as an adult in her 30’s, simply because she wanted to. She had a successful career but she decided one day that she would like to learn to dance, and so she did. Be like my friend’s mom. Go do that thing that you want to do. Take that dance class or learn about knife throwing or knitting, beer brewing, or origami; whatever your thing is. Just learn new skills, new hobbies, new things to keep your brain active.
What new skills or hobbies have you learned lately? I’d love to hear about them!
This post is Part Two of my Build an Intentional Life series. Go back and read Part One here.