Beginner’s Guide to Self-directed Learning

self-directed learning

I’m yet to meet someone who never wish he could learn how to do a thing or perhaps have certain experience.

Oftentimes I hear people say something like: “How I wish I could learn web designing. Or how good it would have be if I could know how to swim.”

I don’t know what yours might be, but all I can tell you is that we all have that craving desire following us all around.

And not doing something about it could be dangerous.

It could prevent you from creating your own opportunity. It could let opportunities pass you by without you having the potential to seize them.

And you will always feel unhappy whenever that craving thought cross your mind.

From my observation, I discovered many people ceased to make their burning desire a reality because they assumed that:

  • It’s impossible to achieve.
  • I have not the resources to make it happen.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t know how to make it happen.
  • I can’t do it.
  • It’s not a problem.
  • It’s too late already.

But what if I tell you that you can still make those desires tangible?

I used to have this same feelings too–I still do, but what always push me into action is what Mark Twain once said, that;

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

Living with those words in mind, I started to do some of the things I know I will regret later.

And one those things was to start this blog.

If you’re with me, I want you to get ready because I’m about to show you how to become a self-directed learner, and how this approach could help you turn your desire into gold.

To learn whatever it is you want to learn, have that experience and begin to give your life a new meaning.

Aside the fact that self-directed learning could help you achieve your desires, it could at the same time help you fill up those holes where traditional school has failed to fulfill their promise.

I’m very sure it’s no news to you anyone that little things can only be learn in school; and that some things can be learn better outside school; and while many things can be learn without school.

So I want you to see the transformation of your desire as self directed process to developing yourself.

Because self-directed learning approach could also help you uplift your career by learning valuable skills that are relevant to survive the real world, which school can never provide.

And the good news is that you can start your learning today and begin to transform your life without spending a dime?

Yes, technology has offer hope for more effective ways of teaching and learning.

Today you can learn many things online for free.

The following are reasons why self-directed learning has been easier than before.

  • There are many websites and blogs where you can download some books for free as eBooks and start reading it immediately on your smart phone.
  • There are many free online courses you can sign up for.
  • You can easily find a mentor online to connect with, and have effective evaluation and feedback on your work. Also for free.
  • You can start a social group, or a community where you share knowledge about what you know so that other people can also benefit from it.

But before I tell you what self-directed learning really is, I will love to start from the opposite side.

What self-directed learning isn’t about

There are few things I will like to let you know upfront, most especially things that have discouraged many people from learning.

School has made us believe that we have no choice when comes learning.

Self-directed learning isn’t about that. Here you have the freedom to learn whatever is it that you want to learn.

1. You don’t have to do what you have no passion for. You’re in charge of your own learning, you decide for yourself what is it you want to improve about yourself.

2. No examination required. Likewise no certificate is given. It’s all about exanding your mind, acquiring skills, and building your potential.

Certificate has nothing to do here. It’s more about you.

Your success is based on self-evaluation, and how much you give out based what you’ve learned.

3. It doesn’t take much of your time. One hour a day is an enough investment. And you also have the freedom to learn at your own pace.

4. You don’t graduate. Self-directed learning is a lifelong education. Either you are in school or not, it’s a most you continue to learn.

5. It’s not just for student. it’s for anyone who’s willing to upgrade his life.

6. It’s not a tag name. You don’t have to call yourself a self-directed learner to be one. It’s an act of doing. And you can give it whatever name you want.

Sometimes I call it a project, or research, or whatever name could think of, depending on what I’m working on presently.

I know by now you should have a glimpse of what self-directed learning is.


What is Self-directed Learning?

Self-directed learning is the willingness of an individual to take charge of his own learning by selecting, managing, and assessing his own learning activities, in order to continuously increase in knowledge, skills, and create better opportunities for himself and for the benefit of others.

If you read a book, or you took a course, or you learned a new skill, or have a new experience that positively add value or upgrade your live, you’ve just performed self-directed learning.

Though it might not completely be self-directed, depending on the condition it’s being carried out.

And you can’t just go about and start to do things randomly with no specific purpose toward your action.

There are, however some specific steps you need to take before you can make your learning a self-directed one. And to also make your learning more effective.

7 Easy Ways to Become a Self-directed Learner

1. Decide what is it you want to learn

You first need to get a pen and paper, then answer the questions:

  • What is it do you always wish you could do, learn, or know more about?
  • What problem are you facing that resulted from your lack of knowledge or skills to do a particular thing?

Never mind how much number of things you put down, just write as many a list as possible.

And never bother how silly they might sound or look, just write it anyway.

2. Decide the best channel for learning

In front of the items on your list, write any channel you think is the proper way to make those things happen.

And these channels could be through:

  • Reading books, blogs etc.
  • Taking courses online or offline.
  • listening or watching audio or video materials, such as video tutorials, podcasts etc.
  • Apprenticeship, workshop, vocational training etc.
  • Or any other method you can think of.

Mind you, a single item could contain more than one channels; don’t let that bother you.

For instance if one item on your list says: “make new friends”.

The channels could be to read books about communication, and hanging out with people more often.

3. Select your own learning environment

Yes, in your house. Perhaps you can choose your preferable location.

A place where you can feel comfortable and spend some time with yourself. A special table and chair positioned anywhere comfortable will do it best.

This is especially important because it will make you take your learning more seriously, plus it will always get you in the receptive zone whenever you sit on that chair.

4. Set a goal

This is just to ask yourself:

  • What areas do I want to focus on at time?
  • What available resources can I leverage?
  • What’s the most preferable channel available to make my learning effective?
  • How many hours do I want to dedicate to my learning per day, or per week, or perhaps per month?
  • How do I want to mark my progress?
  • How many weeks or months should I set for myself as a deadline?

Just make sure your goal is SMART. That is, it must be;

S– Specific

M– Measurable

A– Attainable

R– Relevant

T– Time based

And take immediate action.

5. Tell your friends about it

It’s been known that we tend to take things more serious when other people know about it.

Atleast you won’t want to diappoint yourself in front of others, by failing to continue your learning process.

So tell friends who will:

  • criticize
  • evaluate
  • and encourage you.

6. Decide how you want people to benefit from it

This is the most important part of all.

If you’re doing this to help yourself or to fulfil your desire, you must also think of how you want people to benefit from it.

Knowledge is of no use if other people won’t benefit from it.

Do you want to teach it? Or start something about it?

Go ahead and do it.

This is what is going to make you exceptional. And you need not to wait till you become an expert to start something on it, you learn more along the process.

All that is needed of you is the readiness to learn, self-discipline, dedication, and persistence.

This is the process I’ve been using to learn many things since the beginning of the year.

In the next post, I will be sharing with the 4 fundamental skills you must have to be completely exceptional.

Before then, what’s that thing you always wish you could learn how to do, or know more about, that is hurting you deep from within?

We can discuss this in the comment section below.

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