Suzanne Noble from Startup School for Seniors on how to overcome your doubts about making a new start and how to find a learning style that works for you.
New year, new start, as the cliche goes. How many of us approach the beginning of a new year with resolutions, determined that this year will be the year we change jobs, learn a new language or start that side project we’ve had sitting on the shelf forever?
I know that I, for one, have stopped telling my kids, now in their late twenties and early thirties, that this is the year I’m going to ‘make it’ whatever I’ve determined making it means for me at that time. However, right now, I’ve got a mental to-do list which includes re-recording all the course material for Startup School for Seniors, singing weekly at a club or pub and generating brand partnerships and collaborations for Sex Advice for Seniors. I’ve already started to manifest this, so it’s more of a work in progress than starting from scratch.
I suspect what stops many older people from taking that next step is a lack of confidence coupled with a lack of knowledge. When considering stepping into a new role or starting a business, I often recognise that many have a little voice sitting in the back of their mind, saying, “it’s too late”. Others who have yet to do well at school may have convinced themselves that they are incapable of learning, won’t work quickly enough and will fall behind or lack the time. Or finally, there’s the overwhelming choice when finding courses or training, which means that many don’t know how to find what they’re seeking.
It helps to understand and know how you like to learn. You may prefer to be in a group rather than study alone. You may want particular rather than general knowledge. You may need learning that works around your other responsibilities.
Group learning can help to build confidence. Being surrounded by those with similar ambitions who want you to succeed is terrific for learners who may lack a support system or may find self-directed learning hard. You may also discover people within the group who can help make you accountable and with whom you can study together.
Those who may have struggled at school or have convinced themselves they can’t learn benefit from using apps or courses taught in digestible chunks, where they can make progress by taking small steps consistently. It doesn’t matter if you have an hour or 15 minutes daily; it’s about using that time wisely. Online courses like the one I deliver can work around other responsibilities, such as caring. It’s more about putting in the effort in a small way, and often, versus the
cramming you might have done when you were younger.
One of the benefits of online learning is that you can find courses individual to the industry in which you currently or seek to work. One of our past Startup School for Seniors participants, who trained as a hypnotherapist, wanted to fill a gap in understanding how to use social media. She discovered a digital marketing course taught by a fellow hypnotherapist. Local Authorities offer a range of courses that can help fill knowledge gaps, while Udemy, Linkedin Learning. The government’s new platform, The Skills Toolkit, provides free online classes to help you learn new skills or get a new job.
Employers would have many over 50s believe that we don’t have the energy or the ability to grasp many essential skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace. I don’t buy into that assumption. Software is easier to use than ever, and being good at social media or specific programmes has more to do with adequate training than ability. We can overcome those stereotypes or gaps in our knowledge by equipping ourselves with the knowledge necessary to take the next steps in our career – whether that means applying for a role we want or moving into self-employment. All of us are capable of learning provided we have the desire and find a learning style suited to us.
It’s never too late to start something new or make a change in your career. It’s important to recognise and address any doubts or lack of confidence you may have, and to find a learning style that works for you. With the abundance of resources available, from online courses to local authorities and government programs, there are many options for acquiring the knowledge and skills you need to succeed. So don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from pursuing your goals. Embrace the new year and make it the year you take that next step towards a fulfilling and rewarding future.
*Suzanne Noble’s ‘Startup School for Seniors’ and ‘Develop Your Creative Business’ have fully funded places available for Londoners resident in the UK 3+ years. You can find out more at startupschoolforseniors.com