"Back to School" written on a small chalkboard | Learning in Midlife; Once a Luxury, Now a Necessity

Not too long ago, stories of midlife men and women graduating from the University in their 50s or 60s would make local newspaper headlines. 

We used to wonder where these people found the time to study, assuming that they must have been unemployed and free of any other commitments. 

Learning in midlife used to seem like a luxury or a superhuman accomplishment to many people. 

Learning in the past

In the past, learning was mainly associated with formal education and organized around the three-stage life (education-employment-retirement), as described in the book “The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity” by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott. 

Formal credentials were often more important than the actual knowledge as they offered a pass into the world of work. After you graduated and got your first job, your education was officially over.

Learning today

Fast forward to today, advances in medicine and technology, have changed everything. 

Advances in medicine allow us to live longer by treating disease. And, medical studies provide us with knowledge on how to extend the healthy years of our lives.

Technology has transformed the modern economy, and the internet has revolutionized the availability of information.

The combined effects of longer, healthier life and the modern, fast-paced economy contributed to transforming the three-stage life into a multi-staged one .

In the multi-stage life model, all stages of life can repeat in any order within one’s lifespan. 

You can go back to education, take a small retirement (sabbatical), come back to work, and start all over again. 

Why learning in midlife is so essential today

If you are in midlife today, pause for a bit and think! 

How relevant is the formal education you received in your teenage years and in your 20s?

What knowledge in any shape or form have you received since then?

How much has the world and your immediate environment changed in the past 30 years?

Have you kept up to speed with the recent trends?

Staying relevant today is imperative, not only in our professional lives but also in our personal ones.

At work, staying up-to-date is essential not only to minimize the risks but also to take advantage of opportunities for growth and career progression. 

Our careers may last longer than we once thought. Retirement age in most countries is pushed further, and payouts are getting smaller. 

Life expectancy is growing, but we have to make sure we do not outlive our savings.

Lifelong learning has significant benefits beyond work and finances. It boosts confidence and self-esteem. Helps us live a more satisfying personal, spiritual, and social life. Makes us more agile and ready to face change.

Learning in midlife is at our fingertips

Learning in midlife has never been easier and as exciting as it is today. 

There are many forms of formal and informal education today:

  • Online courses
  • Podcasts
  • Audiobooks
  • Webinars
  • E-books
  • Seasonal university courses
  • Retreats

With all these available options, learning doesn’t have to be costly and hugely time-consuming. 

In today’s world, learning in midlife is not a luxury but a necessity for a successful career and a fulfilling life.

So, what will you learn this month?