Most times when people think of continuing education they picture a college or a trade school, but really those are only a couple of possibilities and not the most common. Are you growing as an individual? Are you interested in growing, or does that thought make you yawn?

You must have some thought to self-growth; otherwise you would not be reading this article. So, how do we define personal growth? Is it the same thing as continuing education? I would say yes. I suppose you can grow without learning, but someone would have to explain that one to me.

If you are not growing, you are dying. That is really what it comes down to. Whether you are reading a book or watching something on TV, there are lots of ways to get your brain in gear. To clarify, there are many shows on TV that are total crap, and not part of the learning I am discussing, but there are other shows where learning is ancillary to the primary focus of the show, but it is still there.

An example of this would be shows like Monster Garage or Flip That House. They are put together for the entertainment factor, but you can watch them and learn enough to know what questions to ask, or to have an idea of what you want to do with your house or car.

The 'real' educational shows I enjoy are things like "How It's Made" or Ken Burn's "The War" (on PBS.) I am not learning how to make things ('applicable' learning), but more mind expanding learning (abstract learning.) Either type is fine and adds to your wealth of knowledge. The point I am making is that continuing education does not need to be formal. Indeed, the best learning may be informal.

Yesterday I supervised my son in changing a tire on his bicycle. A few months ago I changed a tire and he observed and asked questions. This experiential learning gave him a lesson he will never forget. The learning we do on a regular basis is what keeps us alive, in my opinion. While we are growing in this fashion we are not giving up the will to live. The point is that learning comes in many different forms.

My own particular favorite is reading and then doing. There are a few series targeted for beginners in any subject, and those are a great way to get practical information explained in an easy to understand format. I have a few of those books, but I also have Learn HTML in 24 hours which taught me (years ago) the basis of web page design. Although most people use software to design websites, it really helped me out to know the abc's.

I don't want to disparage formal education by any means. I returned to college in my mid 30's and attained my bachelor's degree at age 41. The majority of that was abstract learning, but some of it I use on a regular basis. I have to say that community colleges are the most phenomenal institutions in this country when it comes to almost any type of learning.

Our local CC has course offerings in almost anything you might want to learn. Courses range from those aimed at helping you get your degree to yoga, fitness, alternative healing, tarot reading, photography, cooking and many more.

Don't let yourself slowly die in your easy chair watching mindless offerings on television. Think about dreams from your early life, or things that you've always wondered about. You don't even have to leave your home for many of the offerings out there. So much information is available on the internet; much of it for free! Learn how to speak Gaelic or fix that dripping faucet; how to build an airplane or play the ukulele. Don't waste the intelligence you have. Studies have shown that using your mind can help to preserve your mental capabilities. Use it or lose it. Continuing your education isn't a one time thing, it's a lifetime commitment.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Britt is married and a father of four. He is a published author and has a degree in Psychology from Albright College. Robert is a recognized expert in the field of personal finance, self-esteem and confidence building. See for a free tool to build confidence. Please visit and