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5 Simple Steps to Never Stop Learning

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How to continue your education outside the classroom

The Rich Dad Company’s mission is, “To elevate the financial well-being of humanity.” Robert and I have carried this mission with us from the moment we set out on our journey all those decades ago. We knew it was going to be a long road, but we truly believed that we could make a difference and help others achieve the financial freedom we enjoy each day.

There were many ways we could have gone about achieving our mission, but in the end, it seemed clear to us that focusing our efforts on financial education was the best choice. After all, education is the first step toward changing your life — but I don’t necessarily mean education in the traditional sense you may be thinking of.

At Rich Dad, we believe you should always be learning. Why? Because the world is always changing. New technology, new terminology, and changes in the political and economic arenas are always happening. In order to keep up, you have to always be learning.

But here’s the catch: It doesn’t matter what you’re learning or how you’re learning it (again, time spent in a traditional classroom is just one small part of the education equation — and, frankly, I’d argue it’s the least important), as long as you are continually educating yourself and acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Why you should always be learning

Learning is a habit. Your brain is a muscle like any other muscle in your body — and like any other muscle, you have to work it out (by continually learning new things) to stave off atrophy.

But for many, it’s hard to keep learning — especially when your days are eaten up by a 9-to-5 job. But if you’re stuck on the left side of the Cashflow Quadrant, living life as an “E” or employee, continuing your education is especially important because it’s the only way you can ever make the shift to the right side (to an “I” or investor).

Oftentimes, employees get really good at one specific set of skills. They perform the same job every day, and develop an in-depth understanding of that one area. But over time, if they aren’t learning and growing, they lose their ability to learn new things. And with it, they lose the chance to grow as human beings and make the shift to the right side of the quadrant. Of course, no matter which side of the Quadrant you’re on, you still need to constantly evolve and learn new skills.

Continuing your education on your own terms

The good news is there are multiple ways you can continue your education, and none of them involve shelling out a ton of money or going to college.

Sign up for a course

Like I said before, you don’t have to go back to school to continue to learn. But if you find that you learn information better when you’re in a more formal environment, you might consider signing up for an educational course.

This could be an in-person course or an online course you can complete on your own time. For example, CodeAcademy is an online platform that lets you learn how to code on your own time. You can learn the basics for free at your own pace.

Many universities are starting to offer courses online as well, for lowered costs or even for free. Yale, for examples, offers a whole series of recorded lectures at Open Yale for free. You can choose from their offered topics and watch distinguished professors lecture from the comfort of your own couch. Their classes range from introductory psychology to politics to music.

At Rich Dad, we offer free investing workshops across different platforms and cities to help bring the ideas we discuss every week directly to you. From online webinars to in-person workshops and one-on-one coaching, you can get the lessons of Rich Dad in whatever method you best learn.

Everyone has a different way of learning, so finding a workshop or course that meets your learning style is imperative to sticking with it.

  1. Read

    This might seem like a no brainer, but the sad fact is, a good number of adults don’t even finish a single book in a year. In fact, according to Pew Research, 27% of adults never read or even started reading a book in 2015. Conversely, highly successful people read each day. For instance, Bill Gates has said he reads a book a week, Mark Cuban says he reads for three hours each day, and Warren Buffet has credited reading stacks of books as the key to his success: “Read 500 pages like this every day,” he told an investment class at Columbia University. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

    Books are one of our greatest resources when it comes to continual learning. That’s why Robert and I have published multiple books over the past several years. They’re easier to access than ever with the advent of e-readers (especially great if you want a larger font and don’t want to lug a heavy book around), and there’s a book for every topic you might be interested in.

    Books aren’t the only reading material to consider. You can also find many online blogs and articles that will keep you informed (just be sure you’re choosing a reputable site so that you’re learning facts instead of inexperienced opinions). Just picking up the newspaper in the morning could teach you so much if you focus on the business or financial section.

    A while back, I wrote about a nun in Germany who studied investing just by reading the financial column of the newspaper every day. She didn’t have any other formal education, but found a way to always be learning that paid off big in the end. If she can do it, so can you.

  2. Listen to podcasts

    Don’t have time to read or maybe it’s just not the best way for you to consume information? Try a podcast instead. The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere — on your morning commute to work, on an airplane, or even when you’re cooking dinner or doing chores around the house.

    Robert and I started the Rich Dad Radio Show podcast a few years back once we saw how valuable podcasts were. In our show, we bring on guests with unique experiences, backgrounds, and opinions to discuss different financial topics. While our podcasts typically last an hour (and you don’t need to listen to the entire show in one sitting, so feel free to break it up into chunks that work for your schedule), you can also find shorter podcasts from other savvy financial experts.

    You can browse through podcasts available through the iTunes store or other outlets. The best part? Most of the time, they’re completely free! That’s right, you can continue your education, anytime, anywhere, without any cost. Still think you can’t continue to increase your knowledge outside of a traditional school setting?

  3. Play games

    I always laugh at people’s reactions to this one. They often ask how playing a game could possibly continue your education. I just point them to our CASHFLOW® board game.

    Robert and I created CASHFLOW® as a way for people to practice what they’d learned about financial literacy without putting any real money on the line. The best way to learn is by doing, so why not play games to practice your newfound knowledge before opening up your wallet?

    Beyond the content of the games, every time you sit down to play a new game you exercise that part of your brain that helps you learn new things. Think about it! When you learn a new card game or board game, you have to learn the rules quickly and apply them in order to win. And since each game is different, you are always practicing learning.

    Chess, for example, is all about strategy and predicting your opponent’s next move. Even video games can teach you a thing or two about leadership and creativity, especially if you play with or against others.

    Not to mention, playing a game is often far more fun that sitting down to read a textbook.

  4. Build new relationships

    The amount of information we learn from other people is astounding. In fact, you’ve learned all of life’s most important lessons from other people. You learned how to walk and talk from your parents and you learned social skills on the playground from other children.

    Every time you meet someone new you learn something. Everyone has their own wealth of knowledge gleaned from their own unique backgrounds and experiences. Sometimes, the greatest way to learn something new is by taking someone to lunch and just having a conversation.

    That’s why it’s important to build new relationships with people who have different backgrounds and experiences than you. Whether it’s a mentor, a friend, an acquaintance or even a family member with interesting experiences, learning from others is a great and engaging way to continue your education.

Cultivate the habit of learning

Even if it’s something small, try learning at least one new thing a day. Be mindful in your continuing education. Go into the day having a specific goal in mind, or area in which you want to grow. By keeping in mind that you should always be learning, you’ll easily continue your education and make strides toward the financial freedom you yearn for.

Original publish date: January 12, 2017

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