People always focus on New Year’s resolutions at the end of December, but I have a better way of ringing in the new year.
I love to learn fresh ideas and new skills. The phrase Lifelong Learning truly defines the way I live my life.
So this week, I wrote my “learning plan” for the next 12 months, in terms of business and marketing topics I want to study … I also plan to learn how to cook vegetarian meals!
By asking a series of questions, I came up with a list of what I want to study next year. This helps me to keep focused on specific topics and not run around trying to learn everything at the same time. (I can see you nodding in agreement. We must avoid Shiny Object Syndrome at all costs!)
Here’s how to create a focus for your learning plan:
- What are my big goals for the next 12 months for my business?
- What topics do I need to study to attain those goals?
- Of all the thing I can study, which ONE THING is the most important to start with?
- How long do I want to devote to studying that topic?
- What resources do I currently have available to study this topic? (What do you have in your bookshelf or on your own hard drive right now?)
- Where can I get further resources for studying this topic? What books are available? What classes can I take? Who do I know who is a whiz-bang at this topic, so I can pick their brains?
My personal learning planning came down to one focus topic for January/February: writing and editing. My goal for this year is to write at least two books (one is already finished). Here are the ways I’ll implement my learning plan:
- Getting thoughts on paper isn’t the same thing as a well-crafted manuscript, so I hired a mentor to look over my work and show me how to take my writing to a new level.
- I have some writing books on my shelf, like On Writing Well by William Zinsser and Writing Nonfiction by Dan Poynter.
- My friend, Pamela Wilson, just published her first book, Master Content Marketing, and I can pick her brains about the writing/publishing journey she went through.
- Even better, she chronicled her journey in a podcast series for Rainmaker FM/Copyblogger called Zero to Book, so I’ll load that onto my smartphone.
By asking the right question, assets will come to mind which have been neglected. Now I have quite a few assets to explore in January and February.
Then I repeated the process to pick a key topic for all the remaining months for next year. For instance:
- in March I’ll be studying email marketing campaign funnel design
- in April I’ll focus on the psychology of marketing and why people buy
- in May I’ll look at website traffic conversion
Then I’ll collapse in a puddle of happiness, with a full brain and tons of ideas to implement in June through December! 🙂
(There’s no sense in learning a lot if you don’t plan time for implementation. Don’t crowd your calendar with monthly learning; give yourself some assimilation space.)
Special Tip: Having a hard time keeping track of all the notes you take on a certain learning topic? My favorite note-taking tool is Evernote (www.evernote.com), a great web-based, computer-based and mobile app tool to help with keeping notes, including a way to tag each note with keywords for easy look-up. Your notes sync across your devices — a wonderful way to take notes on the go then have them on your work computer when you get back to the office. Neato!
Take a moment right now: What topic do you want to learn more about next year?
Best of luck to you as you design your own Learning Plan for next year! It’s exciting!!