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New Tricks

There is a saying that goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It often means that it is difficult to make people adopt a new set of skills or change their way of life when they have grown accustomed to certain patterns of doing things, or when they have aged too much.

Now I wonder if one’s age could really be a good excuse for not learning new “tricks”. Perhaps the adage could be applied to real dogs, which I cannot be really sure since I haven’t lived long with dogs. But for human beings like those who are reading this blog, I doubt the validity of the claim or assumption embedded in this saying.

Thus I wonder:

  • What is the age after which you cannot possibly expect to learn how to use an iPad or an iPhone?
  • At what age should you stop trying to learn a new language?
  • On what ground do you accept the excuse “I am too old to do that?” from someone you know, for example, your parents or your spouse?

I sometimes observe that it is older people who have more time on their hands if not more money. Perhaps it is with that excess time that older people can be expected to accumulate more knowledge and new skills.

Life can quickly go stale if you neglect to maintain it properly. Make it a habit to keep it updated every now and then. Expose yourself to new challenges. Stop making excuses for not learning anything new.

So here are some practical applications:

  1. If you consider yourself “over the hill“, even so, and all the more, buy every new Apple product as soon as it is made available. iPhone, iPad or whatever. Try your hands on it no matter what. (I am mentioning Apple as an example because it is considered one of the most innovative companies as of today, not that I am trying to build up excuses for buying more Apple products. It could be anything else.) At the least, it is the exposure that matters. It can always be handed down to your children or grandchildren if you don’t like it. Please don’t say you are too old for it.
  2. Continue to give yourself a new “diploma” every year or two. Join new classes or clubs available in local department stores. Sign up on the local Toastmaster’s Club. Or even apply to evening courses in colleges. Just show up without worrying about the grades.
  3. Learning new tricks often involves doing away with your familiar set of skills or tools. Give way your digital camera or mobile phone that you have been using since three years ago and get a brand new one. You will be amazed to see how much the technology keeps evolving.

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