Learning something new can be a most energizing or a most frustrating experience depending on how we go about it. Getting clear on your learning style will make your learning experience much more energizing and rewarding. Changing careers goes almost always hand in hand with learning new skills. As you discover your natural learning style and work with your strengths you will ease your way through career transition.
I learned something about my learning style in our community choir. Most of the songs we sing are on song sheets with notes and lyrics in our choir binders. Since we all need to be ‘off-book’ for our two annual concerts, the challenge all of us singers face is to wean ourselves off our song sheets to get ready for the concert.
When I first joined the choir, I was trying to read the notes and lyrics as we were learning the songs. However, I soon realized that my natural learning style is to learn by ear. Holding the binder, as well as reading music and lyrics, gets in my way of truly absorbing the music. Not looking at the song sheets helps me listen even more attentively, it feels like my natural learning style.
I also like to move my body in the rhythm of the music while singing, which is much easier without holding sheet music. As I am moving to the rhythm, the song seems to enter my being even more profoundly. There are many languages where one word means ‘to sing and to dance’, such as the word ‘ngere’ in the language of the Suyá, an indigenous tribe in Brasil. The Suyá say, “they are one” meaning that it is unfathomable for them to sing without dancing or dance without singing. I must have lived in such a culture in a past live, because I couldn’t agree more.
When our performance is approaching, I only have to go over a few difficult passages in my binder. The majority of the work has been accomplished by delightful, playful absorption, leaning into my natural learning style.
My natural learning style is certainly not suited for everyone. Cathy, a dear friend from choir often comes up with hand gestures that symbolize the lyrics. It helps her learn songs by heart. My husband writes out the lyrics several times, which helps him commit songs to memory. You too can find your natural learning style.
Unfortunately many people associate learning with tension, anxiety and feeling under pressure, due to many years spent in school and deadline driven work environments. Based on my own experience and my clients success, I feel strongly that we learn best when we are in a state of relaxed focus or ‘in the zone’ as some like to call this invigorating state.
Here is how you can find your natural learning style:
- Think of one of your most joyful learning experiences. This doesn’t have to be career related. Often our most joyful learning experiences happen during ‘play time’, when we relax and engage in activities we enjoy.
- Ask yourself the following questions: What was I doing? What made this learning experience joyful and seemingly effortless? Write down the details of your most positive learning experience.
- Ask yourself: How can I apply these insights to other learning experiences and hone a learning style that really works for me?
When you feel pulled towards a learning experience through curiosity and joy, your mind naturally opens to new concepts, ideas, movements or songs and absorbs them with ease. Letting them work with you, while you are working with them. A beautiful sense of synergy, confidence and collaboration arise when you find your natural learning style. Enjoy working with your natural learning style, it will make your career transition energizing and rewarding.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.