Once we’re out of school, we tend to assume our brains just stay locked in that place forever. If our formal education is done, then we think our ability to learn complicated things or concepts must also be done. That’s not the case. Sure, we might be tired of sitting in a classroom and taking notes during a lecture, but that’s not at all the same thing as being incapable of absorbing new information. We learn every day; we just don’t do it in a classroom. All this means that if you’ve always wanted to learn another language or figure out how to play the piano, you still can. It’s only too late if you’re dead. If you’re not dead, then good news! You still have time.
Pick a starting point
First, you have to give yourself permission to care. That’s harder than it may seem sometimes. As adults, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we don’t want to try a thing because we fear failure. It’s easier to reject trying than it is to face the idea that we might not be good enough. Once you commit to something, you have to really commit to it. Don’t put in only half the effort. If there’s not enough room in your life to give it everything you’ve got, then now may not be the right time to try something new. At the same time, you shouldn’t make too many excuses, either. Take a look at your situation and your motivations, and then proceed accordingly.
Next, figure out what exactly you want to learn. If you dreamed of being a rock star, then maybe it’s time to pick up a guitar and start learning the basic chords. If you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who is half-German, perhaps you want to surprise both your partner and his or her family by picking up some conversational German. Be as clear as possible about your goal, and be realistic, too. You may be able to become fluent in German eventually, but you’ll have to figure out the basics first. Setting an unattainable goal is another route to setting yourself up for failure.
Figure out how to do it
Once you have your goal planted firmly in your brain, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to accomplish it. If you want to learn an instrument, you’ll probably need to start asking friends and coworkers about local music teachers. If you want to learn a language or gain some certification, there may be a way to do that by attending classes at a local college. If there’s not, or if you don’t want to sit in a physical classroom, look up online distance education programs at schools like Faulkner University. Remind yourself that you may not find a perfect match the first time out. In fact, it’s more likely than not that you’ll need to keep searching for a bit before figuring out something that works for you. There are more credible options for online learning than ever before, which is great because it gives you a ton of options. The options can seem overwhelming, but keep at it. You’ll find something that works for you, whether it’s taking classes online at Linfield College or getting harmonica lessons from your neighbor’s uncle’s roommate.