Learning is the Trail to Success

At what age do you stop learning? After high school? College? Two years on the job? Or never?

We should always be learning, right?

Learning is one of those traits that employers find so attractive. Someone with a willingness and eagerness to learn can be a great asset.

So, what did you learn today? Anything? Think about it. Really think about it.

There must be something that you know today that you didn’t know yesterday or the day before. If you didn’t learn anything, then you’re either very forgetful or dead. Or maybe just oblivious.

Let’s assume you did learn something new. Did that extra knowledge that you gained come because you were actively striving to learn something new? Like by reading a book about investing? ** wink, wink **

Or was it an accident? Like when my 9-year-old tells me that the most poisonous snake in the world is the Belcher’s sea snake. That was accidental learning – to me. Of course he intended to make sure I knew that, but I totally fell into that tidbit of learning by accident.

And to be honest, I didn’t really care either. I don’t forsee the need to know what the most poisonous snake in the world is. But I learned it.

what have you learned todayAnd whether it’s accidentally or on purpose: either way is fine, because the result is you’re learning something you didn’t know before.

And this is good. It’s progress. You’re adding information to your mental library of experiences and knowledge. And contrary to what some may say, you don’t have a limited amount of space in your brain. You don’t need to forget something just to make room for something else.

Different Methods of Learning

So we should always be learning . . . something. Whether it’s about our finances or otherwise. There’s a world of information available to help us grow and improve.

So how do we learn things? Many people are visual learners. They like to see diagrams or pictures or flowcharts to help them understand processes or cycles. Think: money maps or this great venn diagram that helps me remember that England, Scotland, and Wales make up Great Britain.

Others read and take in knowledge and information through words on a page or online through blogs and other sites. If you read this blog, hopefully you’ve learned a few things here or there. Reading is a great way to stimulate your mind and learn new things.

Some learn through lectures, though that is often cited as the least effective method of learning. And let’s face it. No one really wakes up in the morning with thoughts of enjoying a riveting lecture that day. Unless maybe you are passionate about the topic.

The Most Effective Method of Learning

And of course the most effective way to learn is through experiences. Otherwise known as the school of hard knocks – or life. Either you mess up big time, and you think, “Wow! I never want to go through that again!!”

Or you do something well, and think, “Hmmm, maybe I did it right this time.”

The point is you learn by doing. We all learn this way, whether you know it or not.

Experiences shape our choices and future. But sometimes they can have negative effects on our finances. For instance, if you were always forced to make your lunch for school as a kid – like me, you are much more apt to buy your lunch later in life, just so you don’t have to make it yourself.

Sorry Mom, I love you, but I hated making my lunch. And this attitude affected my finances. Always buying lunch gets to be expensive. Fortunately I now have a fantastic wife who makes my lunches for me (Thank you dear).

Or if you always had to wear yard-sale clothes or hand-me-downs, that you thought we ratty and out of style, once you get money, you splurge on new clothes – just because. You’ve sub-consciously learned that you hate “used” clothes through your childhood experiences.

Maybe you never went on vacations as a kid, while all your friends were traveling the world in elementary school, and you never want your kids “to experience that”. So of course, you have to give those experiences to your children.

Those money habits, though well-intentioned can be devastating to your finances. Especially if you have debt.

And of course there are other experiences that reinforce good behaviors and tendencies. Like spending time eating dinner as a family. We always did this when I was growing up, and it was a great way to discuss relevant topics and spend time with family. And it’s something that we continue today in my house.

Not only does it save us mega-bucks from rarely eating out, but it gives us a chance to engage with each other over food – instead of the TV.

Start Applying Your Learning to Improve Your Money Situation.

tile floor Most people have applied only their previous experiences to their current money situations. They’ve been running purely on instinct.

They think, “This is what I know, because this is what we’ve always done.”

And they’re learning as they go, hopefully.

Others have had an aha moment and started taking in information to improve their situation. From blog posts and financial articles to advice from friends and family.

Which is great, but at some point you have to start applying that new knowledge. Make a budget. Track your expenses. Start socking money away for an emergency. Invest for retirement. Start!

Learning to DIY!

Some of the DIY projects that I’ve done have been incredible learning experiences.

Like laying tile. That always seems to scare people off from doing their own kitchen or bath re-model/refresh.

And it was intimidating to me at first too. But whenever I’m going to tackle a new DIY project I’ve never done before, I usually read about it first. And watch a few Youtube videos as well. Usually by reading and watching a few videos I can get a good sense of what’s required and the different steps needed to complete the task.

And now . . . ? I’ve done 5 tile floors (3 bathrooms, 1 kitchen + back-splash, 1 laundry room), and it’s not as hard as it seems. But I first had to start. I read about it and researched. And then I just started. It wasn’t perfect, and even now it still isn’t.

But once you start, you’ll learn through doing how to be better. You’ll make mistakes, and correct them next time.

I still walk into rooms I’ve tiled and see the mistakes I’ve made. I think,”That tile is too high or that one’s crooked.”

But I’ve learned how to do it better. And unless you’re looking for the mistakes, you won’t be able to tell.

I can’t say it enough. Start!

The longer you wait to make a change to your money habits, the worse your situation will get. You can only blame your childhood and your environment for so long. Sure, some have endured difficult situations. But learn from it, change what needs to be changed, and move on.

What experiences have you had in your life that led to specific money tendencies – good or bad?

Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading and sharing.



Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.

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