Archive for category Habits

Do One Thing Every Year That You Didn’t Do The Year Before

I’m refreshing resources in preparation to run mentoring sessions to help people develop a Professional Development Plan.  I want to give people a different perspective on what it means to take charge of your own development.  To unleash greater creativity and boldness.  To help transform approaches to professional development.  To help people stretch and build future-ready learning skills and habits.

I checked on Jacob Morgan’s YouTube channel where he posts about the future of work.  Some of his videos are aimed at employers and leaders, other at individuals.  I was looking for content talks about why continuous learning is an essential skill and habit for individuals.  I discovered one I hadn’t seen previously which excited me. It’s something I think I would benefit from applying.  My reaction is an indicator that it’s worth sharing with others.  It contains one key idea.

Morgan’s ‘One Rule to Keep Growing and Learning’ is to do one thing every year you haven’t done before – and to do it really well.  He’s talking about something big that you embed as a foundational element in the way your work and think (I would add ‘learn’ to this list of verbs).  While Morgan talks about this in the context of building his personal brand (which can be inside an organisation or outside), it is completely relevant to your professional development and future-proofing your career.

Looking back on 2018 the one big thing I did was to launch Learning Uncut podcast with my colleagues Karen Moloney and Amanda Ashby.  Of course, it wasn’t the only thing I did that I hadn’t done before, just the one that was the biggest stretch and took the most effort.  It will also continue so is now a foundational element of my work.

I have several options to decide between for my one new thing for 2019.  “Do I really need to limit myself to one?”  If I want to do it really well … the answer if probably yes.  Morgan’s point is about becoming great at one new thing.  It’s about focus.

I’ve been hesitating to name my one thing as there is an opportunity cost.  Putting effort and resources into one thing means less investment in other things.  After leaving this penultimate paragraph unwritten for several hours I realise that I’m not quite ready to pick my one thing.  I have short list of options.  All are things I have done before.  However I’ve not done any as well as I would like.  None of these skills or practices have reached the standard I aspire too.  I’m going to vary Morgan’s advice.  Rather than doing one new thing, I’m going to pick one thing I’m already doing.  Then I’m going to do it regularly, frequently – and become really good at it.  I’m not yet sure which to pick.  I’ll create evaluation criteria and rate each option.  I’ll also speak with some trusted advisors before finalising my selection.

Watch Morgan’s video below and let me know what you think of his advice.  Will you be doing one thing in 2019 that you haven’t done before?  What is it and why did you select it?

 

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The Critical Few – Using Keystone Habits

I’m in Week 8 of a Working Out Loud Circle.  This week is about building new habits.  One of the ways suggested to build new habits is to chart your progress.  Exercise 3 in this weeks Guide is to create your own progress chart.

I’ve used progress charts to support habit-building in the past.  With mixed results.  Actually, there is a pattern to my results.  I tend to struggle to embed new habits.  I was reluctant to create another progress chart only to struggle to stick to the habits listed on it.  However, I’d committed to do the exercises in the Circle Guides so pressed on.

Rather than create a new template I hunted through the files on my computer in search of one I could re-use.  I found one that sounded promising – ‘Resolution Chart.xlsx.’  I opened it.  Wow!  Here’s a clue as to why I have struggled to embed new habits.  I was confronted with a list of habits broken into 6 categories:

  • Health – 10 daily habits and 1 weekly habit
  • Money – 2 daily habits and 1 weekly habit
  • Career – 4 daily habits, 11 weekly habits and 2 monthly habits
  • Personal Development – 2 daily habits and 1 weekly habit
  • Planning and Administration – 2 weekly habits and 1 monthly habit
  • Friends and Family – 1 daily habit, 2 weekly habits and 4 monthly habits

A whopping total of 44 habits to track (19 daily, 18 weekly and 7 monthly).  My goal at the time was to complete 80% of these each month.  It’s tempting to calculate the number of data points per month to track this, but I don’t think it’s necessary to make the point.  Perhaps I should have added another one – to track my habits.  Seriously … I see now how this was setting myself up for failure.

This list is clearly unachievable and gave me a lot of reasons to beat myself up. However, there is a bigger problem with creating overwhelming lists of habits, routines and goals.  When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.  I was not discerning enough about which of these habits would make the most difference in my life.

In his book ‘The Power of Habit‘ Charles Duhigg allocates a whole chapter to ‘keystone habits.’   “The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.”  Duhigg characterises keystone habits as “small wins.”  Based on research on small wins he notes that they “fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.”  Duhigg also concludes that keystone habits encourage change “by creating structures that help other habits to flourish.” They create can atmosphere in which other behaviours emerge.

I set up my Working Out Loud habit progress tracker.  The complete list – just 4 daily habits – is shown below.

My Daily Dispatch post (such as this post!) does take around 30 minutes a day, so is not really a ‘small’ win.  However, if I pick my topics wisely each post can be used as part of the Reflection Challenge (#reflectchall) I’m doing this month at no additional effort.  This leaves checking my Twitter relationship list for my current WOL Circle goal, and responding to two posts that others have made online.  This could take as little as five minutes per day.  Not overambitious (for a change).

I’ll give this progress chart a go and report back at the end of month in a Dispatch.

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