Whether you’re still a student or a full-time employee, independent or self-guided learning is a critical skill. Independent learning is the ability of an individual to act, think, and pursue learning opportunities autonomously, without the guidance of a teacher or a mentor at work.
In the ever-evolving job market, where fresh graduates are competing for jobs with hundreds of job applicants and unemployed, the capacity to learn new skills is important. Your commitment to discovering new information continuously is a game-changer in a competitive, global knowledge economy.
In Singapore, busy professionals and fresh graduates can take part-time courses to get a work-study diploma. This allows them to pursue lifelong learning and explore better career opportunities at the same time.
Employers are addressing the skills gap problem by providing training and development solutions to their existing employees. While these initiatives help improve engagement, retention, and satisfaction in the workforce, the type of training should also be considered, whether it be relevant and useful to employees’ roles. Skills training is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The problem with corporate training is its failure to target specific skills and knowledge that directly impact performance and productivity.
Experts say that employees should also take it upon themselves by learning the relevant skills for their job. This allows them to know the skills and knowledge they really need, resulting in improved job performance and overall personal growth.
While waiting for the next training program provided by your company, you also have to take responsibility for your own learning to succeed in your career field. With that in mind, here are ways how to be an independent learner.
Do it even when you don’t want to
Independent learners understand that frustration can drive you to achieve future success. How? For example, think of the things you’re good and bad at. There’s a great chance you’re performing better in things you believe you’re good at and worse in the ones you’re bad at. For these reasons, it’s logical to say that belief is powerful and plays a vital role in determining future success.
If you believe you’re bad at a certain discipline, then you’re less likely to learn about it. What’s the point of trying it after all? If you’re bad at it, then you’re bad at it. End of discussion. It’s useless to try something that won’t make a huge difference. But this approach is absolutely wrong and is considered a mental poison. It negatively affects your self-image, making any effort incredibly harder to achieve.
To become an independent learner means believing all your efforts will be successful in the end. In other words, learning is a matter of choice. Whatever activity you wish to partake in also requires you to have a positive mindset to reap the desired results.
Reflect on your progress
When working on any task, you have to continuously monitor and reflect on your learning progress. This allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and keep track of whatever you’ve learned without guidance or feedback from a mentor. Self-monitoring is a form of reflective thinking in which you focus on establishing goals you want to meet and assess your progress as you reach every milestone.
In this part, you can ask questions such as: “How can I improve?” and “What is my best work?” These questions can contribute toward improving self-reflection.
Set realistic goals
Studies have found that when people write down their goals, they have higher chances of achieving them than those who simply store them in their minds.
Encourage yourself to write your goals on a to-do list or a journal to inspire you to get clear on what you want to accomplish. This will also motivate you to keep your focus on the most critical activities and measure the progress of every goal.
When writing down goals, make sure that it’s realistic, flexible, and challenging enough to spark motivation. Your list should include both short- and long-term goals so you can celebrate every milestone you achieve. Goal setting also allows you to set realistic targets you can achieve independently within a certain time frame. This can give you a sense of pride and enthusiasm after seeing how far you’ve come.
Independent learning proves that you don’t need to work with a mentor or instructor to fully understand a topic of interest. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to learn whatever subject that interest you or benefit your job. When done consistently, it will increase feelings of accountability and responsibility for success and failure. You’ll also experience a strong sense of pride when your bosses and coworkers witness positive progress in your career.