Formal education systems were only developed a few hundred years ago, but humans have been teaching themselves skills they need to survive since hunter-gatherer time. For people today, we face a new learning challenge: In a quickly changing world, we need to learn to adapt, embrace ambiguity, and continue to learn along the way.
Self Direction involves planning for what’s next in our life and taking initiative to work towards the goals to get us there. It means having both an understanding of ourselves and where we’re headed, as well as a know-how of the tools we need to move forward, like goal setting, tracking progress, and being flexible. More than making plans, self direction is about actively choosing where we want to grow and learning how to guide ourselves to where we want to be.
There’s a lot of pressure to develop self direction when we are young, but the truth is that it’s not something you find all at once— we’re all still learning how to learn. One place to start is to try new things and learn through exploration, the same way hunter-gatherers learned about the world without formal education in the early years of human evolution. Along the way, we can build strategies that help us find focus and make us more effective navigators of our own lives.