Self-improvement - A lifelong concept

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Self-improvement or continuous learning goes beyond advanced academic education and career field training courses.

Self-improvement involves making an effort to learn something new and testing our abilities to overcome challenging obstacles. Additionally, in today's "Information Age," everyone must continuously train to remain skilled at the latest computer advancements to perform daily duties. I believe continuous learning not only provides the means to acquire new skills and knowledge but improves our organizational and process skills that apply to almost all daily activities.

What can we do to instill a culture of lifelong learning? First, set learning goals. If you desire to pursue career goals, determine what area interests you the most and work for an academic degree. The Air Force provides financial support with tuition assistance. If you've acquired an academic degree years ago, it may be in your best interest to take refresher courses.

If you want to improve job performance, take office automation courses. Improvement in this area makes task accomplishment much easier.

Do you have hobbies or special interests? Learning opportunities can also occur from taking martial arts, culinary or guitar-playing courses for example. You can improve physical fitness, preparation and organizational skills and self-discipline as you progress in special interest activities.

Next, decide what learning method suits you. Classroom instruction works best for some, especially when working towards an academic degree. Alternatives are distance-learning courses or computer-based training. The Air Force's E-Learning web site offers computer based training ranging from business courses to Air Force custom courses in records management and information assurance. Other areas such as music lessons are best taught using one-on-one instruction or tutors.

Finally, consider how newly-acquired skills can be applied outside the classroom or place of employment. Take into account the commitment, organization and process used to complete an academic assignment or office project.

Now apply these concepts to a home-improvement project such as painting a room. Set a goal to a paint a chosen room over the weekend then organize the materials needed (paint, brushes, rollers, etc.). Consider the process: moving furniture, taping the area to define painting borders, painting trimmed areas first followed by the entire wall, etc. The end result is a successfully painted room accomplished using an efficient process.

Continuous learning is vital for career success and beneficial to improving our daily lives. Self-improvement is accomplished by setting learning goals, pursuing learning opportunities and using our newly acquired skills on a daily basis.

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