A few months ago, I asked my reverse mentor (I also call him my son) to set me up on Snapchat. Truthfully? I had no idea why I would even use it.
And that was exactly why I wanted to learn about it. Snapchat, the mobile social networking app, allows users to send and receive photos, videos and comments that disappear seconds after being seen. The concept is to share moments as they happen, and that idea is very appealing to Snapchat's main audience, 71 percent of whom are 34 years old and younger. Of which I, clearly, am not.
But it wasn't FOMO - the fear of missing out - that made me want to learn about Snapchat, but a fear of missing an opportunity to learn something that wasn't intuitive, convenient or even useful to me. I was curious.
Our fast-changing world requires us to keep up or get left behind, whether it's preparing for a future career or enhancing personal development. But just as disruptive technology can make current skills obsolete, it can also create new opportunities. Staying on top of these changes is key, especially if you're working or considering returning to work.
But learning isn't just about the job. Learning can enhance your life. Studies show those involved in lifelong learning are more likely to be curious and open to new ideas - plus, learning of your own volition can be fun.
Ah, but what to learn, and how? The plan can be simple or more complex, but it should nudge your development forward.
Sign up for golf or tennis lessons. Visit a new museum each month. Take piano lessons. Join a neighborhood book club. Go to a Meetup group. Curate a list of experts in an area of interest in your Twitter feed and follow their tweets. Watch YouTube videos from a channel you like. A more structured option could include taking a college course - for credit or not, onsite or online.
Although your learning doesn't have to be complex, it should be planned out - otherwise your development can get lost in the busyness of life. Every three months or so, create your curriculum for that period.
Give yourself permission to be flexible. What's most important is cultivating the habit of seeking new information and experiences. Doing so can help you be more open and prepared for any changes that come your way.
Pamela DeLoatch lives in Chicago and is an alum of reacHIRE, a company that helps women re-enter the job market, following a career break. reacHIRE.com