No. You aren’t obliged to keep learning. And you may be working a crazy number of hours, as most Americans now are, while trying to have a life too. Likely, what suffers is your sleep; perhaps you are already walking around sleep deprived and not at your best.
I get it. You have a job and obligations and don’t have the extra few hours.
But not learning is risky.
You know that the pace of change and innovation keeps speeding up. What you learned in college or grad school gets outdated faster, and Artificial Intelligence is starting to threaten even professional jobs. And — I hate to say it, but — others are doing it. Can you afford not to keep up with those workplace Joneses?
In a future shrinking job market, people who have added new skill sets will have a big edge. And it probably won’t help that you will have gotten older.
Who will get the job — the younger person with the shiny new skills and knowledge — or the older one with more experience but no new skills? Better to offer experience and new skills.
So how can you be a continual learner in just 1-2 hours a week?
- Volunteer for new assignments at work. Ones where you can learn new knowledge or skills. Try suggesting to your boss that a specific other person could take over one of your tasks. Make it hours neutral.
- Take short term training on the internet. Maybe LinkedIn’s Linda, or various “How To”s on YouTube.
- Take MOOC s online. These are often as in-depth, intense and long as regular semester college or grad courses — but at only $50-$500 per course. No grades. You get a certificate, but not college credit. Cheap doesn’t mean low quality, but it usually means no human interaction. Look at Coursera, Udacity, EdX, or Udemy. Courses often have the same content as on campuses such as Stanford, M.I.T., Georgetown, etc.
- Enroll in a regular online or onsite university course. You don’t have to kill yourself and get an A, just get the content. Taking courses onsite will provide contacts as well, but cost you in travel time.
- At the least, read about new developments related to your field in a blog or two. Subway? Grocery store line? During boring call-in meetings?
Side benefit: having taken courses — or even being enrolled — can beef up your resume.
To consolidate your learning, talk about it with your colleagues, spouse, partner or even a simple version with your kids. Done right, this can count as networking or family time. I know I’m at the edge here, but I appreciate your time constraints.
Not persuaded? Look around. Don’t the people who know new stuff seem impressive? In a rapidly changing economy, continual learning will be well worth finding ways to work it in.