At Retire Successfully, we believe that lifelong learning is essential for a fulfilling retirement. Life is a tapestry of many threads; neglecting one can unravel the others. That’s why we’ve identified eight essential elements that weave together a balanced and meaningful retirement: work, give back, relationships, money, learning, health, purpose, and play. This month, we’re focusing on the “learn” element.
What is Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong learning is the continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills throughout one’s life. It is driven by a desire to grow and develop personally and professionally. Lifelong learning can take many forms, including formal education (such as attending college or university), non-formal education (such as taking online courses or workshops), and informal learning (such as reading books, watching documentaries, or engaging in conversations with experts).
The Benefits of Lifelong Learning
The benefits of lifelong learning are far-reaching – it keeps the mind active and engaged, which can help protect cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia in later life. Learning new things can be an enriching experience, giving people a sense of accomplishment and purpose and helping them live more fulfilling lives. A wonderful added benefit is that continuous learning creates new opportunities for people to connect with others with the same interests.
Lifelong Learner: Meet Stephen Marcus Finn
Chartered client Stephen Marcus Finn is the epitome of a lifelong learner. Although Stephen, who’ll turn 75 next month, has a Master’s in English and a doctorate in Communication, he insists – and persists – in studying further – all the time.
In his mid-sixties, he returned to the piano to do his Grade 8 (the highest level) practical with the Royal Schools of Music, having to start from Grade 4. He did this in one year and, in the same period, went from Grade 1 to his Grade 8 theory exam, which he passed with distinction.
Six years ago, he completed his third year in Film at the Open Window and was also involved in acting at a private institution.
To celebrate his 70th birthday, Stephen gave a piano recital that included works by vegan composers, including the notoriously difficult Alexander Scriabin.
Three years ago, he obtained his Honours in Drama and Film Studies at the University of Pretoria, specialising in Research, Writing and Directing, and earned his degree with distinction. When he obtained his first Honours degree in English, he was the youngest student in his programme at the university; this time around, his fellow students were young enough to be his grandchildren.
Straight after a double-knee replacement, Stephen started writing an academic book on animal rights, Farmed Animals on Film: A Manifesto for a New Ethic, which took him a year to complete and was published by a major company in the USA. He has currently resumed his passion for writing novels, plays and poetry, but intends to continue (in the next year or two) with studies in … whatever he wants to do.
Stephen’s journey is proof of the endless opportunities for growth and fulfilment through lifelong learning. His story shows that it’s never too late to embark on a path of curiosity, discovery, and self-improvement.