For many of us, it’s been a little while since we’ve taken a seat on the schoolhouse bench. We have memories of sleepless nights spent both studying and partying as well as the elation we felt when we shed our caps and gowns to join the ranks of the productive members of society. The years have brought responsibilities: bills, relationships, families, and the thought of setting aside time and money to sit in a class seems nearly unfathomable.
With that said, taking a class may be the perfect primer to reignite your passion for a hobby or for your work.
Break out of your routine
Routines are awesome. They help you to run your days efficiently, help to prepare and plan and instill a general sense of order to life.
The drawback however is that routines are not conducive for creativity. They don’t address a new way of approaching and solving problems nor do they help us learn a new way of interacting with others. Routines can keep us in perpetual sameness.
Taking a class asks us to do new assignments and interact with new people yet doesn’t have the weighty consequences of daily life.
What to choose
There are so many options out there. What should you choose? It ultimately depends on your tastes, your goals and your objectives. I recommend taking a class that you know can drive and excite you. Our multitasking minds may nudge us in the direction of something practical for work, like an Excel class or a networking class. This is fine if you believe it will ignite your passion.
Let’s try to get one level deeper, however. What have you always wanted to do? What’s an activity you enjoy, where time seems to fly? What’s something you are curious about? Ideally, you want to target your interests. We tend to focus on our responsibilities and fulfilling our role for others. But what interests YOU?
Once you’ve chosen your class, commit. What does it mean to commit? First of all, show up. It’s easy to let it slide, especially when we have real responsibilities, a job, family and social commitments. Treat your class the same way that you treat your responsibilities. It’s for your personal development and it matters.
Once you’re there, participate. As adults, we tend to do two key things that hinder participation: 1) we suffer from “cool syndrome” and 2) we use “tip math”.
Cool syndrome is walking into the class and thinking you’re the coolest person in the room. You’re too cool to ask questions, or you dismiss your classmates’ questions because they are not as cool as you are. You aren’t even really present because you are busy stocking up stories to tell your partner and/or your friends once you leave class.
Tip math is evaluating everything about the class to see if it “worth” your time and money, similarly as when you go to a restaurant and start evaluating every action the waiter makes to see if they are truly “worthy” of your tip. The handouts aren’t well photocopied: -1. The teacher talks in an annoying way: -1. The chair you are sitting in is uncomfortable: -1.
Cool syndrome and tip math boil down to one thing: judging. A judgmental attitude is the enemy of participation. It blocks you from taking full advantage of the class.
Vow to leave judging at the door and immerse yourself in the subject matter and the experience.
Once you’ve selected a subject you love and are curious about and you’ve checked your judgement at the door, it’s time to get down to learning.
Remember that your goal is to reignite your passion. This class is the vehicle to learn something new, try something new and see what you can do. Remember that you are completely free to draw lessons above and beyond the course material. Maybe you’re normally scared to try new things, and this class has now added an arrow to your quiver by giving you a strategy for approaching new situations. Maybe you don’t normally speak up, and this is your chance to push yourself by sharing your opinion in this consequence-free environment. Perhaps you always speak and listening to others is your way of going beyond your limits.
I wrote a couple of articles a while back on Dr. Carol Dweck’s research in mindsets. As adults, we often feel obliged to prove what we know. When you sign up for a class, you’re in a “safe space” so to speak, because you don’t have to prove anything. Her research has some really fascinating ideas about looking at learning as an opportunity to grow. You can check out those articles here: Persevere using the Growth Mindset approach by Carol Dweck and Receive and incorporate feedback using the Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck.
If now is not the right time for you to sign up for a class you can also check out my article How to make time for continuous learning.
Learning something new is a wonderful way to reignite your passion and expand your horizons. It’s a gift you give not only to yourself, but also your entourage, because when you change, the world around you also changes.