But that’s not the only thing I’m learning. I’m practicing French again after taking years away from my high school foreign language. I’m trying to learn how to do a proper push-up (which is taking *forever* thanks to my limited upper-body strength). And I read every single day, fiction and nonfiction, articles and books. Because lifelong learning not only introduces you to new information and ideas, it also keeps your brain healthy and sharp, and according to some studies, it reduces stress. Lifelong learning is also essential in our current knowledge economy.
A knowledge economy is an “economy based on creating, evaluating, and trading knowledge” rather than physical goods. Our societal shift toward high-tech companies and products like apps means that we’re mostly spending money on people’s ideas rather than on physical products. For example, millennials can’t afford to buy houses, so they spend their money on travel, which often involves AirBnb, a product that brilliantly found a way to take a product that already existed – houses and apartments – and make money from it. The same thing goes for Uber and Lyft, which repurpose our own cars and turn them into taxis.
So if the primary product in our economy is knowledge, that means lifelong learning is even more important. I had a coffee with a test prep and academic tutor this week who specializes in advanced math. I asked him up to what level he can teach and he said, “Multivariable calculus and linear algebra. I can’t just jump into the middle of a proof-based course, but I can figure it out if I start from the beginning.” When I told him how impressed I was with his math skills, he shrugged and told me, “I don’t know everything, but I’m an expert learner.” And that’s what I think we have to work toward, learning how to learn. The more quickly and masterfully we can incorporate new tools into our tool belt, the better prepared we’ll be for whatever comes next, even if we don’t know what that is.