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Ahhh, Refreshing: The Importance of Lifelong Learning

Summer is a time when many people take a much needed vacation and recharge the batteries. While I often think of renewal in the springtime, the summer is when I really start to consider how I can decompress from a busy year, relax, and pamper myself. My routine is to spend some time at the beach shedding the stressors of the past months and breathing in the fresh air that revitalizes my reserves. 


So, what does this have to do with ethics, you may be asking? Good question. One of the standards in the GPA's Code of Ethics states that, “members shall continually strive to improve their personal competence.” Well, going to the beach may not directly improve one's competence; however, there are some others.
How can we improve on our ability to do our jobs well year after year? How do we remain highly effective after trudging through the list of to-dos and writing about the same general topics yet again? Continual learning is the answer. Much like going to the beach (or whatever you do) recharges our energy, being educated about your craft is critical to keeping your skills sharp and your mind focused.
One pet peeve of mine is when I hear professionals say that they don't need to attend training because they have worked for many years and claim to “already know that stuff.” Really?! You know everything about your field? You can learn nothing from a workshop or class? Maybe other folks are much more together than I am. I love the opportunity to take a break and focus on my own skill-building or having the chance to hear another professional's perspective on a topic. So much can change anymore. Technology makes our work easier, for example. Who doesn't want to have an easier work day? New developments in the fields we write about happen frequently. The fields of education, healthcare, social services, and many others experience amazing change from one year to the next. Why not take the opportunity to educate yourself so you can better educate the individuals who will read your next proposal?

Increasing your marketability is another reason to add to your knowledge bank. As a consultant, you are far more noteworthy to a potential client if can demonstrate your eagerness to learn new things. This interest will tell your perspective employer that you will be more likely to dig in and really understand their environment and organization so you can communicate their uniqueness in grant proposals. Continual learning also shows a considerable amount of drive and motivation which is also highly appealing to those you are trying to impress.
I can see no downside to continuing your learning journey. Yes, it may cost money that you sometimes have to pay out of pocket, but aren't you worth it? You are! Now, go out there and find a workshop, read a new book or article, or attend a conference. You will gain much more than what the objectives state.