Continued Learning

I am currently attempting a couple of projects that involve trying to expand my skill set. For instance, learning Portuguese for my long term retirement plan, as well as learning Python and R for my current career as a data analyst. I’ve been a bit out of the learning loop for a while, figuring my current skill set has gotten me where I am, and why then would I need to learn anything else? This is a flawed line of thinking for sure, but being lazy, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of sticking with what you know.

Prior Projects

After first getting my undergrad in Political Science, I quickly realized that that degree was not going to get me far. I initially worked as a claims adjustor for a multinational insurance conglomerate, before going to work as an underwriter for a different multinational insurance conglomerate. After realizing in my early 20’s that my job was well down the highway of being automated, I decided it was probably time for a career change, and decided that I needed to develop a new set of marketable skills.

At this point I went to the Computer Career program at DePaul University, which taught me programming skills such as SQL, as well as mainframe programming such as COBOL and CICS, and from there I made the leap into information technology. Learning back then seemed easy. I was only a couple of years out of college, classes were two nights a week, plus an additional three to four hours a week for studying, not a big deal for someone who was still in their mid 20’s at the time with no other commitments.

One thing about working in information technology is that the required skill set is constantly changing. Of the skills I learned from DePaul, only SQL is frequently used in my current job. The other skills, such as COBOL and CICS I have largely forgotten. Actually, looking back, I kind of wish I had kept my COBOL skills up to date given how in demand COBOL programmers are now.

Python and R, along with SQL are the languages I use most now, as well as slinging together the occasional Tableau workbook. So far, I feel I am keeping up, but just barley, and keeping up with those changes seems to be getting increasingly difficult in my mid 40’s.

More time for learning

Over the past year and a half, I have continued to get up at the same time in the morning, and continue my same morning routine. Get up, exercise, do breakfast, and check up my portfolio and the events of the day. Prior to a year and a half ago, I would have headed off to catch a train to work at round 8:15, so I could be at work by 9. However, now that is additional time I have at home for me to work on the things I want to work on. It seems that this would be a great time for learning. However, the problem is, as I get older, things don’t seem to be sticking the way they used to.

So as I continue to try to pick up new skills, I find myself going over the same things several times over, and then forgetting it again, but quickly reminded the next time I see it, only to have to go back to Stackoverflow to remember how to do it the next time I need to do it for my job.

Motivation

As things seem to become harder to learn, my motivation to learn it seems to decline. Why should I bother learning Python when I can browse the internet all day for random stuff. It’s more fun to learn things that you don’t feel that you have to remember.

The political climate of the United States over the past several years is a distraction as well, particularly being a Political Science graduate, and knowing how this stuff is supposed to work. Trying to remain apolitical, I feel the need to understand both sides an issue, but, in reality, that creates just twice as much material that I think I have to catch up on.

Perhaps, if you are following this blog, you might have noticed this is the first post I have made in a while. Part of that is simply writers block, where I got through all of my initial blog ideas, and am now struggling to come up with new ones. Part of that is also getting to motivation to get my thoughts onto screen.

Doing a to do list might help. It would give me a list of things I need to do, or things I need to study. But, would I end up viewing it as essentially a task list of things I have to do, and, in the process become even less motivated?

Conclusion

Not really much of a conclusion here, other than getting old sucks. As I get older, I am finding it harder for me to absorb new knowledge. Perhaps, knowing this is why I am looking to retire well before traditional retirement age, to reduce the anxiety of trying to keep up.

Sure, post retirement I will probably continue to want to learn, and perhaps I will be better at it, as my livelihood won’t be as much at stake, but that is still several years off.

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