Suzanne Fournier Program Manager, Professional and Continuing Studies, School of Continuing Education
About Suzanne: I'm one of three program managers in the School of Continuing Education. My portfolio is probably the most eclectic—I handle a lot of our business and management courses and certificates, health and workplace wellness courses and the Minerva Seniors courses. Just recently I've taken on professional development and professional communication programs for international students—that's a brand new area for us.
Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't make official resolutions. But a few times a year—and usually around this time—I think about how things are going in my life and what I want to be doing. I bought a 10-visit yoga pass a few weeks ago and had my first class, so I'm going to try to learn how to do yoga properly.
Why do you think people make this resolution? I think people realize they have to challenge themselves and keep challenging themselves. There’s a quote that says we need to challenge ourselves and continue to grow, otherwise we become bored and boring. A lot of people realize that they keep doing the same old things, and they make this resolution because they want to try something different.
Suzanne's suggestions for learning something new:
Don't make it complicated
Sometimes we think learning something new has to be harder than it really is and we put it off until we’re ready or have more time. You can start small. You don’t need to look into a new career or find a new hobby, or sign up for a big credit program or a whole certificate. It doesn’t have to be something formal. Take a one-day course in a subject and see if you’re really interested in it.
If you haven’t gone to school in a while, it can be less intimidating to take a continuing education course. Many of our courses don't have exams and you can come and learn practical things.
Make learning part of your everyday
I think people tend to see learning or education as something separate from their everyday lives, but it really isn’t. We’re all learning every day. It’s maybe not in a formal environment—we learn at work or with our kids. Sometimes people will take on the role of being the assistant coach on their kid’s sports team, and they learn leadership skills, planning and problem solving. There are so many opportunities to learn that don’t take place in a classroom.
And now you can learn so much online through MacEwan and through TED Talks. Libraries often have tons of resources and free courses. There are different lectures you can go to that are free. You just need to look around and see what’s out there.
It’s okay not to like something
I tried a painting class last year and it wasn't the right hobby for me. It’s okay to try something, not like it and move on. Sometimes people think they have to do really well at something, but you don’t. The whole point is just to try.
Be a lifelong learner
It’s important to be a lifelong learner because it keeps you young, it keeps your mind sharp, and it helps you stay connected with the people around you and what's going on in the world. We want to live a long time. We want to be healthy and lead active lives. I don't want to live to be 100 and spend the last 25 years stuck to a machine and only able to watch TV. I want to be living my life right to the end.
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