This is a short essay I wrote as an assignment for the MOOC “Learning how to learn” on Coursera. (Edited for clarity outside of the course content).

I am in my early forties and have been learning my entire life. Typically I explore topics that interest me by googling them or reading big picture articles. Then I decide to dig in when the topic leaves me hungry for more. I have been fairly successful learning things I need and want for my job until now.

Having moved from the construction industry to the banking sector I want to gain a basic understanding of financial activities. I have been successful getting to grip with financing and credit so far. My next step is to focus on investment management.

I have tried three different ways of learning about investment management so far. Registering to a newsletter for people interested in managing their investment better: it is ok but doesn’t give the explanations I need. I have attended an internal investment class, it required some basic knowkedge I don’t have. I started a mooc on Coursera but dropped out in week two because I couldn’t follow anymore. 
All in all these 3 trials made me feel under pressure because I obviously miss some basics. I am frustrated because I don’t know where to start.

In the MOOC “Learning how to learn” I discovered methods that resonate with me. This in turn reminded me of other methods I have used successfully in the past. 

Diffuse mode: I can relate to this mode and could use it to sort out the big picture of what I want to learn. I think I imagined I could dig straight into focused mode not realising the topic of investment management was newer than it looked like.

Chunking: I haven’t quite understood how to apply it to my issue but I have this gut feeling that I should give it a try…

Grit, the power of passion and perseverance, A. Duckworth. This book is my inspiration to stick to it and give myself the time AND drive to learn anything I want.

Mindmaps: Reflecting on what works best for learning reminded me that I am very keen on visualising the connections between the chunks I am learning. So I will definitely have mindmaps in my learning mix. 
What’s next?

I have decided to use the diffuse mode while googling investment and related terms. I will visualise my big picture in a mind map and keep populating it until I find an area that triggers my curiosity more than the others. That sounds like a good strategy for my “investment management” learning challenge. 

How I will stick to it?

Well if learning and development (aka me) is going to sit at the business table, the last thing I want is not being able to distinguish important from bagatelle comments. So “serving my customers” by speaking their language is what motivates me and always will!

How do you tackle your learning challenges? Any tips you’d like to share with me?