Updated: Mar 24
As a Gen Xer, I know that one of our generational superpowers is that we enjoy learning new skills and knowledge. But did you know that Gen Xers prefer learning in a context that’s grounded in real-world solutions? This means that much of what we learn after completing formal education is self-directed.
But have you thought about what it would feel like to learn your way to living life with the freedoms you’ve always desired? In this post, I’m going to explain how you can get the most of your Gen X learning superpower to enjoy the freedoms you want in life now, rather than waiting until retirement.
I’ll also show you how to identify common learning challenges and share my simple mindset hack that helps you learn your way to success. After reading this post, you’ll understand how to get the most from your self-directed approach to learning how to enjoy the freedoms you want in life.
How learning new skills help Gen Xers enjoy the freedoms they want
Can you remember a time when you were learning about a specific topic but realized that you’d stumbled upon new knowledge and skills? One of the things researchers know about Gen Xers is that they prefer to learn by doing and finding solutions to real problems. This approach to learning is best described as incidental learning. Gen Xers can use incidental learning to enjoy the freedoms they want in life NOW, rather than waiting until they retire.
Back in 2019, I decided to move to Puerto Rico, and learning Spanish played a crucial role in helping me decide to move to the island. I’d already started learning Spanish at that time, and I was so uber focused on learning how to speak Spanish. I didn’t even realize the benefits that came with studying a second language. Benefits like improving my problem-solving skills, learning more about my native language, and deepening my connection to Spanish culture.
I quickly realized that learning another language opened the door to other freedoms in life, like where I travel, where I live, and who I can interact with personally and professionally. This is an example of how incidental learning propels Gen Xers to live the freedoms they want in life now, instead of waiting for the quote-unquote right time. However, Gen Xers must be prepared for some of the challenges they will incur along the road to learning to live a more fulfilling life.
3 obstacles Gen Xers will encounter during the learning process
If you’re a Gen Xer who’s reading this post, then I know you’ve had to learn a lot to achieve your current level of success. And I’m sure that your learning path hasn’t been entirely linear. In fact, you’ve probably taken some twists and turns, gone around in circles, or even had to take a few steps back as you developed new skills and knowledge.
My personal life experiences and coaching experience have taught me that internal obstacles prevent us from reaching our goals.
Because you don’t fully realize what’s holding you back, the major hurdle standing in your way to living the freedoms you want in life now is YOU!
And until you more about what’s holding you back from taking your first step to living life on your terms, your ability to fix it is limited.
To understand where you need to begin, let’s examine Gen Xers and their relationship to learning new skills and information. Here are three traits we know that Gen X should pay close attention to not become hindering learning obstacles.
1. We are entrepreneurial thinkers.
Gen Xers enjoy opportunities and look for ways to succeed. As a business owner, this learning trait works well because it inspires you to dream big. However, having a clear vision about your success is only half of the work you need to do so you can live your dream life. You must focus on finer details if you’re going to achieve the results you want. In other words, big dreams require big plans.
2. We like to imagine all the exceptions.
This Gen X learner trait focuses more on how we plan to use the learning we acquire. When Generation X dreams big, we spare no expense–the sky’s the limit. We think about every challenge that might come up along the way. But spending too much time trying to predict what might go wrong at every step along the learning path is a distraction. Overplanning stops you from doing the actual work, which is learning the skills and knowledge to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. So, dream big, but don’t spend more time dreaming than working.
3. We tend to be skeptical and cynical.
Gen Xers have a knack for combining skepticism and cynicism with snark (or maybe that’s just me)! But you can reframe your skepticism and cynicism. Instead of being overly skeptical and cynical of what you’re learning, direct those traits onto yourself. Challenge yourself to identify what’s activating your distrust. Reframing your Gen X learning superpower like this opens the door to incidental learning.
In the early days of my Spanish learning, I was very cynical about the learning process. If a new concept didn’t fit into my existing frame of reference, I discounted it as non-sense. That was a huge mistake! I missed out on some rich learning experiences because I let my pride fool me into believing that learning a new language wouldn’t be difficult for me.
I had to get out of my way so I could continue improving my Spanish. What I learned from this experience was to redirect my skepticism and cynicism on myself. Instead of lashing out against what I was learning, I learned to examine the thoughts and feelings that caused me to react this way. So, how do you redirect yourself in practical terms?
A simple mindset hack that helps you learn how to enjoy the freedoms they want in life NOW!
I use a simple technique to tame my brain when I hit my breaking point during the learning curve. Using my strategy will help you take a step back from the thoughts and feelings swirling around in your head, reset, and continue working towards your goals.
Here’s how it works.
First, unpack your resistance to the learning content. Unpacking your resistance simply means getting in touch with the thoughts and emotions that are blocking your learning flow. Nine times out of ten, fear is the main culprit. For example, when I dismissed my Spanish learning, I realized that fear was driving my resistance. I was so afraid of looking and sounding stupid when I talked to native speakers. That caused me not to learn or use the new words, and it certainly didn’t help me improve my pronunciation skills.
Second, pay attention to the lesson(s). If fear is what’s causing you to buck your learning process, I’m willing to bet that it isn’t the first time that’s happened. And if you haven’t taken the time to really understand that lesson that your fear is trying to teach you, then you’ll continue being at the mercy of your fears. Pinpoint what skills, resources, or new learning you need to help you overcome your fears.
The last step in my TAME YOUR BRAIN strategy is to get curious about your learning process. Working on my own fears taught me an important lesson. You must follow your fears all the way to their origin. Learn where fear shows up in the way you learn new skills and information. What are the triggers? How long does it last? What makes it worse? What makes it subside? These questions give you the knowledge you need to find your fear’s weak spots. Then, you can train your brain to attack it so you can get on with living the life you’ve always desired.
Practice these steps the next time you’re struggling with learning something new. Take a minute to clear your mind and assess the situation. Start by focusing on just the first step until you feel ready to move to the next. Learning how to enjoy the freedoms you want in life now takes time and practice. So, give yourself grace and space to make this process your own.
You’re probably wondering what’s going on with my Spanish now. The short answer is Sì, yo puedo hablar español un poco! However, shortly after beginning my Spanish learning journey, I realized that fluency was not the right goal. I didn’t want to become a translator or get a language certification. I just wanted to be able to have meaningful conversations with the people I meet in life.
So, the big takeaway here is to use your Gen X learning superpowers to your advantage. Managing your visionary thinking and your tendency to overanalyze, as well as reframing your skepticism and cynicism, are ways to get the most from your generational learning superpowers. Try my mindset hack and let me know if it works for you.
And if you want to get one step closer to enjoying the freedoms you want out of life NOW, rather than waiting for the right time to come along, join my private Facebook group, Gen X-Unlatched. We are a group of Gen Xers who understand the value of hard work. But we’re learning how to enjoy life’s freedoms NOW, instead of waiting for the right time (whenever that may be). Just click here to join the group!
Let’s keep in touch on social media!
● Gen X-Unlatched (Private Facebook Group)
● Questions & Comments? Leave me a voicemail
Image: Monica Melton – Unsplash