Getting ready to learn
We are often as successful as we expect to be at most things in life - and learning is no exception. So forget any school experiences that left you feeling doubtful about learning. You are no longer the same person that you were then, and the learning you undertake now will not be like school.
Research has proven that stress reduces our ability to learn. Take ten deep breaths, unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders before you attempt any learning, formal or informal.
Make a point of remembering an experience that made you feel great. It could be the birth of a child, a sporting achievement or negotiating a shrewd business deal.
A recent study found that schoolchildren with the best results in class were those who drank up to eight glasses of water a day. A balanced diet also keeps our brain in top gear - eat little and often. Proteins such as fish, meat and eggs help the memory. Too many carbohydrates can slow the brain down.
Three different ways of absorbing information have been identified: some people have a strong visual sense and like to see information in images, others prefer to hear information, while others receive information best through physical activities that are hands-on. While many of us can absorb information in all three ways to some extent, most people have a preference for one over the other two. Working out which way you prefer to receive information can make a real difference to how well you can learn.
Vicky left school as early as she could and couldn't wait to start a family once she got married. Four children later, she is proud of her young family but has started to feel that she has other talents she would like to develop. Last year she started studying a Garden Design course at her local college, which she has found hard work but enjoyable:
'I don't mind learning all the plants, as I love anything to do with gardening,' she reveals. 'I did worry about things like Plant science but my tutor showed me how making mind maps helps you remember more easily. When I started thinking about what helps me learn, I realised that I am very visual - I can always remember a picture but I'm not so good at long pages of text. So I create a mind map of anything I need to learn and include lots of pictures to help me remember. It has really helped.'