The idea of new year resolutions isn’t a modern invention. The Babylonians and Romans both made promises to their gods at the start of a new year. Whether or not you are making resolutions, the start of a new year does bring new opportunities for you to refocus on learning new skills and building knowledge. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but here are 10 proven and practical steps you can take to help get your learning off on the right track in 2017. And here’s the good news …. you don’t need to necessarily do them all! If you try just a couple, you’ll see the benefits by the end of the year.
1. Set realistic goals
Take half an hour to think about what you really want to learn, develop, improve, and why. Now write those goals down so you have something to refer back to reflect on. Whether it be improving your vocabulary in a foreign language, overcoming presentation stress or learning to play the drums: SMART GOALS HELP!
2. Find options for achieving these goals
If you want to improve your writing skills, how are you going to do that? Use an app, attend a course? Do your research and find options that are going to work for you – and try to get the ball rolling sooner than later. It’ll be summer before you know it.
3. Get social
Talk to people about their goals and what they’re doing to get there. How are they learning? And what can you learn from them? And share your goals too.
4. Eat small bites
Micro-learning is one of the learning & development trends for 2017. The great thing about this is that it acknowledges the time issue we all have. Training can now happen in bite-sized chunks that literally take no more than 5 minutes at a time – that means you can learn something very quickly without having to make major changes to your routines and schedules. There are micro-learning solutions for most areas, including business English.
5. Get organized
If you’re learning anything new, it helps to organize yourself. That could be organizing your notes, your time, and setting priorities. Take the time to consider what works for you.
According to the 70-20-10 learning model 10% of learning happens in formal training situations, 20% happens through social interaction, and 70% happens on-the-job. On-the-job means in practical, real situations. So, if you’re learning something, you need to experiment in real situations. Look for opportunities to do this.
7. Learn from your mistakes
If you experiment, you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t worry about that, it’s part of the learning process. Just make sure you actually take the time to reflect on what went wrong and what needs to happen differently the next time round. And then do it differently.
8. Enjoy yourself
The best learning happens when it’s so much fun, you don’t even realize you’re learning. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Choose learning options that fit in with how you would normally be spending your time. That could be watching a movie, listening to a podcast, reading a book, or playing a game on your tablet.
9. Notice your progress
If you write down your goals, and review them regularly, you’ll see the progress you’re making. It also helps if you can begin to notice the small events that show that learning is happening.
10. Celebrate your results
And when you notice those small events, celebrate and reward yourself. When we ask participants to build transfer plans at the end of a seminar we ask a number of questions, “What? How? By when? Who else needs to be involved? What does success look like?” AND “How will you reward yourself?”. It could be as simple as holding off on buying a new book or as grand as buying concert tickets and taking your daughter.
Overcoming the 4 core obstacles that prevent intentions turning into action
Whether they be new year resolutions or not, our plans and intentions often fail to materialize due to a lack of specificity, vision, accountability, and discipline. To overcome these 4 obstacles …
- Define what you want to achieve as clearly as possible (see step 1 below)
- Consider what success looks like – and then ask yourself if you are really doing all you can to make your vision come true
- As well as holding yourself accountable, set up a “buddy system” in order to stick to your resolutions. Avoiding embarrassment can be a great motivator (see step 3) -although some research does argue that sharing goals actually widens the intention-behavior gap.
- Stick to your goals and your plans, and don’t make excuses. The more you practice discipline, the more disciplined you become. When you do slip, rather than making excuses, think of ways to do it next time should you happen to come across a similar obstacle.
Good luck and have fun learning!