How to Start Your Self-Directed Learning

When you enter the workforce, it can be easy to let learning fall to the side. But if you push yourself and direct your own learning, not only will you create new opportunities for yourself, but you will continually grow.

Learning to direct your own learning, however, can be difficult. Here are three basic steps to get started.

Identify Your Goal

Before you can get started with your own learning, you need to identify exactly what it is that you want to learn. After all, you can’t exactly work towards learning something if you don’t have something specific in mind. And while this may seem like the obvious first step, it is necessary to get this step right, which means taking time to think through your goals. Missing this step can create a difficult time in managing your learning and staying on track. Without the specifics in mind, you may spend time thinking about what to do rather than acting on specific steps. Goals provide focus and direction to keep you motivated and on track for success.

When you are choosing something to focus on and setting a goal, you should think about the things that would be most beneficial for both your personal and professional life. Do you need to brush up on your excel skills, learn coding, or figure out a new technology? Should you learn to incorporate a growth mindset into your life or improve your time management skills? You should identify things that pertain directly to your career, professional development, and personal life. Each of the three work together to create opportunities for growth and advancement.

Identify Your Strategies

Once you have a goal in mind, it’s time to create strategies for reaching your goal and continuing your learning. If you want to learn coding, how exactly will you learn it? Will you enroll in an online class? Will you watch tutorials online? When choosing your learning method, you should consider which of the options are the most valuable and convenient for your life.

After you have your learning method, you can break up your goal into smaller steps. Not only will it make your goal more manageable, but it will also help you complete your goal by a certain time, rather than continually pushing it back. With smaller steps, you will have smaller goals to meet that will put you on track to meet your overall goal.

Identify Your Evidence

Finally, you should provide evidence of completion and understanding. While you may be out of school, your career has become your new classroom. Therefore, in order to prove to yourself and others that you have learned the material, you should create evidence that displays your mastery of the subject. For example, if your goal is to better understand Excel, create a spreadsheet for your work or personal life that incorporates all of the formulas and tricks that you learned.

Evidence of your knowledge will help hold you accountable along your journey. The evidence is the product of your hard work and time spent improving your skills and provides motivation to continue your path of self-directed learning.


After you have completed your plan, it’s time to start learning new things. The best thing about self-directed learning is that it can be whatever you want it to be. You are in charge, and you get to decide! Once you learn one thing, you can move onto the next, so get started with growing your skills today.