Ramit Sethi, one entrepreneur and incredible thinker that I follow, has a saying that his parents often asked him: one year from now, you are going to be one year older, what are you going to do?
His parents’ point was that a lot of things could be done in a year and what are you going to do to improve yourself or change your situation one year from now?
So with the new year just started, I’m taking a look at ten things that I want to learn or improve on and I will tell you why I want to improve these things and some of the resources I am using to improve them.
Dreaming bigger and removing my limiting beliefs
We all have dreams. For example, one of my dreams is to be a best selling author. But I also have limiting beliefs. That I may not be a good enough writer. That I may not be a very good marketer. That nobody will buy my books. That my books will die in obscurity. Why do we have limiting beliefs? These are the excuses that our brains come up with so that we don’t move forward or change. We don’t like change. We are uncomfortable when things are out of place or our routines are shaken.
Well, I’m slowly examining my dreams and limiting beliefs with the help of none other than Mel Robbins. She has a completely free program that I’m following called Best Decade Ever and it isn’t too late to sign up! Every day, I work through a dream workbook with e-mails and videos from Mel Robbins sent to my inbox every day guiding me through the assignment that day. I’ve only just started but I know that change will not come unless I put in the work.
When I was younger, my Mom put my brother and I through swimming lessons. I found the swimming lessons to be really challenging. I don’t even remember if there was a logical or step by step progression even to front crawl swimming. All I remember is that one moment, I’m wading in the water, learning how to hold my breath and the next, I’m thrown in the deep end, trying to learn how to front crawl, breathe, move my legs, move my arms and do all of this in a coordinated fashion.
Now that I’m a bit older and have a pass to the rec center with a pool, I have a chance to re-learn swimming. It’s not something that I’m afraid of, but it is something that I don’t feel like I have a lot of confidence in. After hearing about Tim Ferriss’ experience learning swimming, I’ve decided to follow the same program – called Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. I have the DVD and have the accompanying book and the great thing about the program is that it walks you through, drill by drill, how to get to a freestyle swim. Master each of the drills, and you build on your existing skill set and learn new habits that will help you in later drills.
Design and marketing
I’ve grouped these two together because I think they go nicely hand in hand. After reading Seth Godin’s This is Marketing, I feel like marketing is a key skill that everyone can benefit from. Marketing, in my mind, is the skill of telling a story to persuade someone about something. It can be that a certain brand of toothpaste is the best. It can be that a certain vacuum sucks in more dirt than any other vacuum. We all tell ourselves stories about what kind of person we are, and when we buy something, we buy the things that validate or align with the stories that we tell ourselves. If we tell ourselves that we like to save money, we won’t buy super expensive dish soap. But if the super expensive dish soap is marketed in the right way, we can change the story that we tell ourselves (for example, telling ourselves that this is the best dish soap that is hypoallergenic, high quality, de-greasing, etc.).
How will I learn some of these things? I will be re-reading Don Norman’s Design of Everyday Things and Design of Future Things. Design is something that I am very much interested in because great design delights. From a marketing perspective, I am going to learn by doing. I will be publishing a new book and I’m going to try out strategies that I have never tried before.
Agile project management
Last year, I was on a major project where I was scrum master for one of the work streams. It was fantastic being a scrum master and one that I think fits my personality well given that a scrum master is a servant leader. As a Toastmaster also, Toastmasters all practice servant leadership. It’s a leadership style that I am quite familiar with and I found that being a scrum master fit in with what I understood a project leader should do. Last year, I achieved my PMP and now that I have gotten a taste of the scrum master role and of the agile methodology, I am looking at building on that knowledge and getting agile certifications.
I think it’s a logical next step and while agile was probably a growing trend a few years ago, I think there are still opportunities for agile to be adopted by the local market where I am. My company has some excellent resources on Udemy and to get some of the certifications, I’ll have to go to third party organizations so that I can attend the course and pass an exam.
I’ve mentioned this many times previously, but selling is a skill that I think is critical to all professionals, whether you work for someone else or work for yourself. I almost wish that when I was younger, I worked in retail, but I ended up working in a customer service role instead. Sometimes, I even think about working in a salesman role part time now to get a taste of what it is like selling.
Not only will I experiment with my book that will be coming out shortly (Essential Habits), I will also look at different e-commerce opportunities to see if that is something that I would like / am good at / to learn selling. And because one of my favourite authors, Zig Ziglar, wrote a book on selling, that’s one book that I’ll be reading and re-reading to download his knowledge.
I’m a big fan of cooking. I can’t remember where I read this, but I think one of the reasons why I like cooking so much is because cooking is one of the few hobbies where you can experiment, try new things, and get the results almost right away. You know whether you have succeeded or not from spending a bit of time cooking. And in general, if you practice safe cooking, you won’t harm yourself.
I just saw that there is a masterclass learning italian cooking, and I recently purchased The Silver Spoon, so with a bevy of cookbooks in my library, I will start to browse through, learn new techniques, learn new combinations of food, and most importantly, try these out.
My partner signed me up for a welcome package at one of the local studios. I did not know anything about it, but the first time that I went, I got an incredible sweat from the work out and have enjoyed it since. Although I’m never going to be a professional boxer, I do have more respect for boxers and their endurance and conditioning. It’s hard to punch, coordinate footwork, body weight and block all in action and reaction to your opponent.
I’ve been taking classes locally, but the great thing is it’s not just about boxing, there’s some footwork, cardio and core involved.
As my readers know, I try to blog at least 1- 2 times a week. And in the background, I am also working on a new book and finishing the editing on Essential Habits. I also write for work. So in short, I write a lot. But just because I write a lot does not mean that I am improving. The only way to improve is to do something, get feedback, try new things, and then get more feedback. In this case, I don’t really get feedback on my writing, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t try out new things. To that end, I have heard great things about Stephen King’s book On Writing, which I will devour. Also Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Both books are ones on my reading list.
I’m not sure why I am interested in comedy, but I do know that I have a certain brand of humour that my friends and coworkers know me for. I actually want to expand my humour. I think it will help me connect with new people and it’s a great way of making connections between different topics (which is a good skill to have outside of comedy as well). There are a few masterclasses that I have seen on comedy – Steve Martin has a comedy class. Penn and Jilette has a masterclass on magic, but there are comedy components. Judd Apatow teaches comedy writing. I’ll look at taking a few of these classes to see what I can learn and expand on.
I once told a close friend that I have been reading different relationship books to improve my relationships. My friend gave me a weird look and then said “I think it is great that you are trying to learn more about the opposite sex”. Reading relationship books is one thing. Putting it into practice is another.
I’m looking at John Grays’ Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus series of books. I’m also looking at Barbara Deangelis’ books (I have What women want men to know). Finally, there are some great books by Leil Lowndes on relationships, workplace situations and conversations that I’m excited to dig into more.
What will you be working on this year? Why? Let me know in the comments and I’m sure I’ll be able to recommend some books or resources that can help you in your goals.