It was while reading Tsh’s piece about family purpose statements a few years ago I realized I had relegated learning primarily to the classroom.  It registered as a sharp, stinging jolt to my personal sensibilities.  Without meaning to, I had halted the intentional learning process.

Through the years that post has haunted me for that and other reasons, in part because ours is not the family who does such things (draft a family purpose statement).

While I do parent with great intention, I’ve lacked the wherewithal to convince my non-blogging husband and children to do this.

Come to think of it, I may have only mentioned it back then, presuming they’d rather eat pinecones than join me in the challenge.

On one hand I feel like a failure for not having a family purpose statement – for not even trying.  But on the bigger hand, I want to assure those of you who are like me (those who don’t follow through with every internet idea, even the great ones), that you’re parenting your family just fine.

If you’re doing the best you know how to do, if you’re leading your family with practices and principals seeped in faith and morality, if you’re loving your babies for who they are and not who you wish they were, you’re their perfect mama (or daddy).  Not perfect as in without flaw, but perfect as in fit and complement.

It was that lifelong learning thing that hung me up on Tsh’s post; most of the other values and goals were consistent with who we were and how we behaved, both as individuals and family unit.

Certainly, you never stop learning altogether–life has that way of shaping you through the daily grind, relationships and countless exterior pressures.

But learning about someone or something different on purpose, mastering a new skill or studying an unfamiliar subject all require careful intention and planning.

Life-long Learning Quote - Image by Robin Dance

There’s little doubt the time and effort are a worthwhile investment.

Sometimes stage of life or circumstances mean you can’t tackle learning a lot of things or complex lessons, but I’m not talking quantity; in this sense, quality matters.

It’s not a matter of conquering a “learning list”, blowing and going, breadth over depth; this is about enjoying the process and acquiring new knowledge or skills for the sheer delight in learning.  Likely, the benefits will extend beyond sheer enjoyment.

As both a means to hold myself accountable and to encourage you, I’ve shared a few things I’d like to learn this year, many of which will no doubt make you feel better about yourself because “everyone else” already knows how to do the simple things I don’t.

I genuinely hope my post “haunts” you–not in a negative sense at all but by challenging and motivating all of us to keep our brains active on purpose.

I’d love for you to consider the benefits of life-long learning and read my list and teach me what you know about any of the subjects.  I’m equally curious what you’d like to learn in the coming year.

This isn’t about making resolutions you’ll likely break; it’s about tending your mind, taking care of yourself, and modeling an important concept for your children and others in your sphere.

Is intentional, life-long learning a new or familiar concept to you?  If familiar, please share your experience and practices.  If new, share one thing you’d like to learn by the time 2014 comes to an end.