May 4, 2007

What do you want from your LearningLife?

America is aging. Over the next two decades, 78 million baby boomers (including 811,000 in the Twin Cities and 1.3 million statewide) will navigate life transitions and reassessments, transforming themselves, their communities, and their planet.

At the University of Minnesota's College of Continuing Education, we asked: How about a joint venture between the U and all of us who truly believe that life keeps getting more and more interesting? As an opening to endless possibilities, LearningLife helps enliven and enhance the second half of life. As a “generation ageless? community, LearningLife helps close the space between learning and living.

LearningLife's building blocks are connection, content, community, and co-creation. Co-creation happens when the people who are served by LearningLife become partners in shaping its offerings. It’s a process whose time has come, and it’s a process that engenders trust and respect. But its success hinges on participation.

What are some of the possibilities you'd like to fulfill now that you have this opening? How would you close the space between learning and life? Post your comments on any question to help co-create LearningLife. Add your ideas, build on someone else's, ask a question, or just observe. Visit whenever you like to add more or just keep up with the process.

May 10, 2007

How do you want to share your knowledge?

As we get older, many of us find ourselves wanting to pass on what we know, think, and believe. While we still enjoy applying our wisdom to professional or personal challenges, we also want others to benefit from it.

What knowledge, deeds, and insights do you want to share? How would you help assure continuity in your workplace, family, or community? Could a broader public benefit from your wisdom? Can the knowledge you hold positively influence the future of your workplace, community, or other sphere?

How would most like to share your knowledge? Would you write a memoir or a manual? Would you blog? Would you create a slide show? Would you want to be a mentor, a coach, or a teacher? How about public speaking?

How passionate are you about sharing your knowledge?

How do you want to exercise your creativity?

Jerry Allan, a great teacher, compares creativity to a muscle. “If we don't use it,? he says, “it will atrophy.? Jerry believes that creativity is an innate human quality: we all have it. We are all conceivers and makers and builders.

Creativity can be stifled; it can lie dormant, but it does not die until we do. If, in the second half of life, we want to move more intentionally toward wholeness, then our creativity must accompany us.

What kinds of opportunities to flex your creative muscle appeal to you? What would you make? In what kinds of creative activities could you see yourself engaging? How would you integrate creativity into your life? Would it energize you to be part of a creative community?

Is it time to discover your calling?

Legendary life coach Richard Leider says that “a calling is the inner urge to give your gifts away.?

How can a career become a calling? If work in the second half of life means better aligning our livelihoods with our values and aspirations, how can we proactively direct ourselves toward what could be called a bliss career?

How can we combine our financial needs with work that is personally fulfilling, relates to a deeply held interest or passion, uses our unique talents and skills, allows us independence and flexibility, or enables us to contribute to our near and far communities?

Would you be an entrepreneur? How about a social entrepreneur who starts a nonprofit? Would you work for pay, or is a paycheck not as important as it once was? Would you be a consultant? What skills would you need to learn for your bliss career? What kind of work would reduce your stress and promote a genuine sense of accomplishment?

Have you discovered your calling? How would you make your career into a calling?

How do you like to learn (and teach)?

Information is one thing, but do you also seek knowledge and wisdom? What is your idea of an expert? Do you feel you have something to learn from your peers? Do you have peers whom you consider experts? Whose thoughts and judgments do you most respect?

Does there come a time in life when we, ourselves, are the teachers we most often turn to? If so, is this a result of greater wisdom? Knowledge and experience? How and when is it best to be our own teachers?

So do you seek information? Practical advice? Interpretation of events, discoveries, and trends? Do you want informal ways to continue your "schooling?"

If LearningLife could create ways for you to both learn from your peers and be their teacher, would you want to participate? And just out of curiosity, if you were the teacher, what you teach? How would a concept like this actually work?

May 25, 2008

How do you define life skills?

LearningLife borrowed the phrase "life skills" from a respected advisor who believes that we must build the skills needed to live and work fully at any age, but especially during the second half of life.

Why? It's not just that we can expect to live longer, it's that we can also expect to be healthy and active longer. Sustaining vitality, meaning, and happiness in a long, engaged life means reinventing ourselves many times. That takes skill. Yet building life skills can be overlooked by educational institutions, judged relevant only in work-related and training settings, or perceived as frosting rather than cake.

Viewing work as one aspect of your larger life, how important are planning tools and strategies, paths to self-rediscovery, and greater alignment of your work/life with your values and dreams? How important is information and knowledge that can enhance your vitality and free you from some of the worries that might accompany aging? How important is it to build skills that allow you to mentor or coach others, care for others, or be deeply helpful to others?

What comes to mind when you read the phrase "life skills?" What do you feel are important life skills as we continually travel to what-is-next?