Back to School for Grown-ups

Photography by: Dominick Guillemot
Back to School for Grown-ups

If you loved: NEW TEACHERS, SUBJECTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO EARN A GOLD STAR
Now try: SETTING GOALS AND LEARNING SOMETHING NEW

One of the reasons you adored scoring a smiley face on a math test as a kid isn’t so different than why you’re inclined to take a cooking or music class now: Both reinforce how good it feels to set and achieve goals. Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., contributing author and editor of Full Bloom: Cultivating Success (Sourced Media Books), says the most compelling reasons to try your hand at something new are increasing stimulation, growing self-esteem and finding activities that improve our quality of life.

So which course is right for you? Lynn Robinson, life coach and author of Listen: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis (GPP Life), recommends listening to your gut when deciding whether to sign up for accounting or art history. “One way intuition communicates is through enthusiasm,” she says—so if a course description gives you butterflies, take a cue from your younger self. “Kids have clearer ideas about what makes them happy—they’re willing to try new things and take risks without too much thought,” says Robinson. While she suggests taking classes that expose you to new ideas and people, if you’re out to retain info, don’t simply audit the class: A 2011 Purdue University study found that taking a test is vital to learning.

If you’re into setting goals outside the classroom, begin by taking small steps. “Starting with the basics allows us to make a big, new goal more manageable and keeps us from feeling overwhelmed,” says Robinson. Next, write down your goals, post them in a high-traffic area where you’ll see them, and discuss them with people who will hold you accountable. Finally, don’t be afraid to put a little blood, sweat and tears into getting to your end-goal. Says Robinson, “Tell yourself daily that sacrifice means giving up something you want for something you want more.”