You know how people always say kids’ minds are like sponges?
That there is no limit to how much they can learn and absorb?
I’ve always been fascinated and frankly somewhat jealous of this capability in kids. I have seen it unfold with my own children. How they were able to learn two languages simultaneously or learn piano and quickly progress through it. That’s some true talent!
Now all this is fine and dandy, but what is bothersome is the notion or belief that as you get older, it becomes more difficult to learn something new.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, or maybe even said it to yourself: “I’m too old, and it’s too late for me to start something new now.”
Well, I beg to defer. We can certainly rival the learning talents of young kids.
Take my 83-year old millennial dad, as I like to call him. He is a self-taught internet whiz with his own social media accounts and as tech savvy as they come. You see, he wasn’t just going to sit around while the world marveled at all the glorious things technology has to offer. Nope! None of that technophobia crap for my Dad. He fully immersed himself in it and as a result, he is informed, connected and happy.
As Rocking Over 40 goddesses, we are still relatively young, so I can’t say for certain that learning a new skill is harder. But it is certainly different now.
You see, learning something new in this particular life stage comes with huge advantages:
We have accumulated life experience and general knowledge
We have experience, perspective and general knowledge to add and complement whatever new skill we are learning. Learnings can be mapped out on that pre-existing knowledge and that by itself will make things click easier and faster.
We have determination and readiness
There is a popular saying in Spanish that says “querer es poder” which is equivalent to “if you can dream it, you can do it.” We know we don’t have all the time in the world, so we are now more adamant than ever to accomplish our dreams.
We apply discipline and grit
We are capable of pushing boundaries and don’t mind getting out of our comfort zone.
We don’t need to be told that the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, and more practice. Grit is the secret to success, as Angela Lee Duckworth so eloquently states in her TED Talk: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
I am currently learning piano and ballet, and not only does it feel like I’m learning a new language, but I feel like I’m rewiring my brain. It’s like a cross-training workout for my brain – not easy at all, but certainly not impossible.
We may not be in the sponge stage of life but as I like to say, we are in the blender stage. You gather all the tools, push the right buttons, chop, puree, mix, and blend to produce something of great value.
So, go on out there and learn a new skill, even if just for 30 minutes a week. Remember that we are ripe for learning at any age, as long as you set your mind, heart, and soul to it.
Tell me what new skill have you learned recently?