What skills you need to acquire, and which strengths must you improve?
The areas where you need to invest in your learning.
Because to keep growing and to be ready for bigger goals, you must increase your knowledge, wisdom, and capabilities.
Your Learning Plan – Continuous Improvement In All Areas
Knowledge and wisdom are two magnificent concepts that separate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. Knowledge represents the information we collect, retain, analyze, recall, and share. Wisdom is how we use it.
By and large, most of us get a formal education in the first part of our lives. That is usually in the form of school, college, graduate school, and any other type of private or public education system. In addition, we also accumulate knowledge from our parents, friends, and other people that we look up to. On top of that, there is our own experience in the actual world. And last but not least, the self-learning we do by reading, observing, watching, listening, and so on.
That’s all great, but the problem is that most people stop learning once their schooling ends. The only learning that continues is on-the-job training, and that consists mostly of sharpening existing skills you might need to perform your job. So, if you are an accountant who gets a job at an auditing company, you will now improve your auditing skills as a sub-set of your accounting skills. Most of the time, your job imposes this on you rather than it being a personal decision.
But is that enough? Obviously not. You are following this very program because you want to live a more fulfilled life. That means reaching for your vision and actively working toward your mission, which requires you to set goals and pour massive action behind them. But the bigger the goals, the bigger the challenge. And just as in school when you encountered things you didn’t know how to do, and you then had to learn about them, in the school of life you will face goals that require you to do things you either cannot do or don’t know how to do.
That is why I introduced this part of your Creation Voyage — the Lifelong Learning Plan.
A Personal Lifelong Curriculum
The obvious difference between learning in school and learning by yourself is that in school, you had twelve to fifteen years of a formalized curriculum. Basically, you trusted the creators of the education system to tell you what to learn, how to learn it, when to learn it, and how to be tested for it. The other difference is that if you didn’t study, you got punished through your grades, and poor grades could make your life difficult.
So then, how can you create a system of personal learning that takes the best parts from the formal education system, tosses out the bad parts, and makes it a lifelong, fulfilling experience?
In this little voyage, you will design your personal life-learning plan, following three simple steps:
- Interests (Research)
- Learning (Improvement)
- Practice (Mastery)
1 Research & Interests
As I mentioned in the section on Passion, one way to expand your horizon is to expose yourself to a variety of topics and rich experiences. By opening yourself up to fresh opportunities, you will uncover exciting subjects and themes that might even spark a future passion. So to nurture this, every year you should strive to dip your toes into something new, something you haven’t tried before.
Note that there will be a minimal investment here: the idea is to pick something new and try it out. So it’s all about low-key experimenting. It might involve picking up a book on psychology, or learning how to create a new language. Or, perhaps, taking up pottery or learning how to dance swing. Whatever it is, you can start from the spark of an idea and expand from there.
One other way that you can discover things to experiment with is by finding people around you with different interests. Does your wife or husband like to dance salsa? Maybe you should join them. There is no rule here, except for being as open-minded as possible.
Now, just be mindful of the time invested in this type of interest-sparking. You don’t want this to become your focus and completely hijack your attention. Sometimes it’s tempting to seek new ways when the current path is too steep; that is not the point of this process. Make sure you limit the time invested into these research activities to just enough to scratch the surface. Don’t let them become a chase for the greener grass on the other side of the fence just because you are uncomfortable with what’s in your yard.
1 Learning & Improvement
In the alignment section, you’ve identified missing skills that are necessary for your goals to become achievable. You also identified skills that you already have and that support your goals and vision. These are the areas where you have to improve year after year, and you must become stronger in their ambit. If it’s Excel, take an advanced class. If it’s investing, read a book. Take a seminar or webinar. Whatever it is, you already know what you need to target. It’s a matter of upping your level.
A secondary group comprises things you’ve researched (point 1) in the previous year and that have piqued your interest enough that you would like to know more. That’s great; however, be mindful of one thing: you must design your learning plan in a way that helps you to nourish those resources that are supporting the action you’re taking toward your goals. While having a hobby is perfectly fine (as rest and recovery are part of your plan, too), make sure it’s not taking over your life. Every time you allocate resources to anything, including learning and especially leisure, first ask yourself how that connects to your bigger plan and vision.
At this level, your investment in time and money needs to be more substantial than in your research for new interests. You might need to deliberately allocate more time to this type of learning, and also set aside a monetary budget. At the end of this, you are probably not going to be the ultimate expert on that topic, but you’ll know more than the average person. And, especially important, you will know more than what you knew the year before.
This annual upgrade of your knowledge, skills, strengths, and wisdom will continue to solidify, and you’ll soon feel a compounding effect. The more you know and practice, the quicker you grow in that aspect. Your learning will lead to exponential knowledge, and wisdom will follow.
However, make sure that you practice your learning in the real world. The last thing you want is to learn for the sake of learning and not have any practical application for your knowledge. Unless you are actively training to be a professor or a teacher, in which case the knowledge is your material, be sure that the knowledge you acquire helps you to achieve your goals.
1 Practicing & Mastery
The highest stage in your learning plan is the mastery level. This level targets the skills and strengths you have identified as being vital to your vision and goals. These are the skills that, if mastered, would make a tremendous impact and have ripple effects throughout your entire life.
It’s here that you will need to invest the most time and money in your learning plan. It’s where you’ll put deliberate and consistent efforts to practice and get better.
Although there could be a lot of self-learning in this category as well, it’s not atypical for learning activities in this context to result in a palpable title, such as a diploma or a certificate.
These are the areas where you want to call yourself an “expert.” Usually, they come naturally from part 2 above. Things you’ve learned and practiced in the past are now ready to be mastered.
Keep in mind, though, that you cannot be a master of too many things. If you try to reach mastery in everything, you might wind up being the master of none. You need a certain level of proficiency in each area of your life, but mastery is only applicable to those elements that have a massive impact on you.
Because mastery requires focus, you might wind up working on one or two mastery projects per year; ideally, you should keep it to one. Here, it’s the quality and concentrated effort that counts, not the quantity.
What Are You Learning?
To define your learning plan, you will follow the worksheet and first brainstorm a few areas for your interests. I strongly advise that you use interests that are somewhat related to your field of work or to issues that you are trying to solve. For instance, if your health and fitness are important, perhaps this year you can research some topics of human anatomy, nutrition, or muscle-building.
Next, switch to the more formal learning and improvement section. If this is your first year doing this, you don’t have a reference to the past or to a trend. That’s okay; start from scratch and define the items to learn from your Goals, Skills, and Strengths Analysis.
Last but not least, focus on your mastery plan. Be very clear about the things that you need to master this year. They should be directly related to your biggest goals this year and must support them one way or another. Setting it up in this way will ensure that you have enough fuel to go after these goals.
With this final step, the Creation Voyage is behind you. Now, it’s time for Action. Get your ticket for the last leg of this majestic journey, the Action Voyage.
Feedback, Comments, Suggestions, Testimonials
Do you have any feedback, suggestions, comments or ideas about the Self-Growth Journey Program? Or perhaps, you’d like to leave a testimonial for others to see? If so, please visit the feedback and testimonials page and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!