The New Cycle of Learning

Key Takeaways

  • The previous three-stage ladder of learning, earning, and yearning has been turned on its head over the past 20 years.
  • With new emerging technologies, longer lifespans, and other big shifts over the past 20 years, the new learning cycle is cyclical, and is one of learning, leveraging, and longevity.
  • This new learning cycle still includes a formal learning period, but then there are periods of relearning and reinventing every few years or so, leveraging your past experiences, and doing this again and again over time.

Many years ago, I learned that we go through three stages in life: learning, earning, and yearning. It’s a rather analog approach to life these days since these stages have been turned upside down over the last 20 years or so with new emerging technologies, increasing longevity, pensions going away, etc. It’s now become more of a cyclical thing, of learning, leveraging, and longevity.

I found these new life cycle stages from Heather McGowan, and she goes over this paradigm shift that we’ve seen over the last several years where there is still a formal learning period, but you go through cycles, maybe every 10 years, whatever it happens to be in your industry. It can really be any length of time, it’s just that it’s a cyclical approach, where you are constantly being a life-long learner.

We are living in a cycle of constantly learning, then leveraging that learning, and putting it in a context of living longer. It’s no longer the step ladder approach of learning, then earning, and finally yearning that most people have been used to dealing with over the past 50 to 100 years.

What’s really interesting about what Heather points out, is that through these cycles, where you are going through some relearning and reinventing, you are taking your past experiences and leveraging those to become important to whoever you create value for. These cycles change again and again, and you are doing it over a much longer period of time. Back in 1950, people lived to be about 69. It’s predicted that children born in 2000 are going to live to over 100, so we are looking at this much longer period of time where people are going to be more active later in life, and they’ll be going through many different cycles.

I really like what Heather has come up with here, and I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I think it’s a great model if you are in to that kind of thing, and I certainly am. It helps me when I am helping people decide where their career paths are going, or how they look at their future in terms of themselves and their families.

Until next time, enjoy.


Gary Klaben is in our Glenview, IL office and serves our clients who are now located all over the country. Instead of being afraid of change, Gary is always looking at how technology will effect clients and bringing the best of it into the practice. Whether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

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