and the Importance of Lifelong Learning
If you want to keep your job, or survive in your own business,
or simply enrich your personal life, the learning can never stop.
I’ve finally accepted the fact that changing technology will forever rule the way we all live and work. But being older and “set in my ways,” I’m finding it hard to hold my ground, let alone incorporate the latest technology into my life.
I thrived as a writer and home-business owner long before the internet dramatically changed my life at the turn of the century. I was literally forced online and into my own website when I was offered a $50,000/year writing job as a “personality” on IdeaForest/Joanne.com in 2000. Gifted with a new laptop, I had to learn a lot in a short period of time, including how to manage and build my first website. (After hiring a webmaster to set it up for me, she suddenly vanished and I had to learn how to finish the job and manage it thereafter, using part of my new income to pay for the telephone training I got at that time.)
Ironically, this “dream job” lasted little more than a year because Idea Forest was one of many new investment-backed ventures that failed when the dot-com bubble imploded. (This article explains how this impacted the internet in 2000 and shaped our lives today.) From that point on, I realized I’d never be able to stop learning if I wanted to survive as a self-employed writer, publisher, and speaker.
The Need for Lifelong Learning
In 2007, I clipped the following comment in an article quoting technology forecaster Paul Saffo, who was discussing where we’d be five years from then:
“Lifelong learning will be the key to unlocking the future,” Saffo said. “People should expect to change careers six or seven times in their lifetime. This is a brain race. It’s no longer warm and fuzzy. Lifelong learning will be a forced march. If you stop learning, you will become unemployed and unemployable very quickly.”
Although Saffo was addressing the corporate world and its employees, I found his prediction equally applicable to me and everyone in the home-business and crafts industries in which I was then deeply entrenched. I never had to get a job or change my career, but as the years passed, changing technology forced me to make many adjustments to the way I was working and, eventually, it changed the kind of writing I would do—which led me back into self-publishing again.
Every self-employed individual and small business owner has been forced to make similar adjustments to survive in business. And it wasn’t easy for any of us.
It’s a “Brain Thing”
In 2020, Covid-19 proved it was indeed “a brain thing” as thousands of both large and small businesses had to rethink everything they’d been doing successfully for years. Suddenly, they not only had to figure out new ways of advertising, selling, and delivering their products and services, but often had to create new products or services that could be sold online or for pickup just to generate some kind of income to hold their lives together. For sure, no one in business could survive without a website and the ability (and willingness) to learn how to use the latest technology, plus do all they had to do with little or no paid help.
I think it’s essential today for employees, business owners, and would-be entrepreneurs to sharpen every skill they have and add some new ones to the mix since none of us can predict what our high-tech society will look like even a year from now. If you have little or no money, I urge you to read and study relentlessly to become self-taught in everything you need to do (or can learn how to do) to make a living. You’ll never find a better investment than yourself.
Learning how to do something else to make a living today has become critical to the financial survival of many American families, and the older one is, the harder this will be to do. I’ve often joked that old writers never die; they just change their subjects, but it’s still is a “brain thing” for me as I struggle to keep up with constantly changing phone, computer, website, and internet-related technology and try to adjust to changes I have to make in order to keep doing what I love to do.
Since I've always been a stubborn achiever and do-it-yourselfer, I’m now forcing myself to change my attitude about technology by looking at it differently, as suggested below:
“Reframe the way you think about technology as a challenge, not as a threat. When you view technology as a challenge, the thinking part of your brain is accessible for learning and regulation. On the other hand, when you see technology as threatening or anxiety-provoking, your thinking brain is hijacked by fear and the survival part of your brain is activated instead.” – Susan Bauerfeld
Wish me luck!
Resources to Help You Learn Something New
and Stay Up on Changing Technology
• Strategies for Managing Digital Devices (Parents helping children)
• The Kim Commando Show and Website. A wealth of practical help here!
• Technology In Our Life Today And How It Has Changed (especially for seniors)
• Wired.com. (Also available on newsstands.)
• Cnet.com. (Shareware and product reviews.)
Previously published as a Brabec Bulletin on April 20, 2022
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