I am constantly seeking. Information, expertise, experience, education.
This is powerful, because it means I am always curious and open to learning new things.
It also means that I will never get stagnant or take anything for granted.
My drive to always be better is an awesome thing for my clients too, because it means they will always get a huge amount of value from me - I will always be seeking to improve what I do for them and with them.
However, constantly seeking to improve comes at a price – especially if you don’t know how to put some boundaries in place.
Let me illustrate the example that has prompted me to write this article.
For the reasons already listed, I listen to lots of podcasts, read a lot of books, read even more articles and study experts in my field. I have multiple mentors, and I invest constantly in courses, memberships and events that I know will help me learn and improve.
Lately, instead of feeling inspired by all this knowledge, I have realised that I am starting to feel tense and stressed when I listen to something. Instead of thinking about the latest membership I have subscribed to with excitement and anticipation, I am now thinking of it as yet another thing that I need and should do – in essence, just another thing on my endless ‘to-do list’ for which I never have enough time. Ditto the other mentoring program I am doing.
In short – these incredibly beneficial things that I actually love, value and enjoy, are taking on the heavy association of a chore that hasn’t been done, and a ‘reminder’ of how much I still have to do and learn if I am ever going to reach my goals.
Once I became aware of how I was feeling, I realised something wasn’t as it should be – my analytical mind going straight into over-thinking mode as I began to contemplate what was‘going wrong’.
But actually, it occurred to me pretty quickly that the only thing ‘going wrong’ in this case was the fact that I had inadvertently failed to apply my failsafe processes – the ones that I successfully apply to all other aspects of my business – to my learning and development goals.
I have no idea why – probably because listening to a podcast in the car didn’t somehow feel like it needed much structure around it! But here is the thing –
If you are seeking out knowledge for a reason, and you want to take what you learn and do something with it, then you absolutely, definitely must have a plan.
Without a plan, you will either listen/read/subscribe to heaps of great content and do nothing with it; or listen/read/subscribe to heaps of stuff and feel the pressure building as you fall behind in actually applying those amazing nuggets of information that you know will make a huge difference. Either way, this is not an effective use of time or resources.
So here are my insights into what can go wrong in this situation, and how to correct it:
I’m not giving myself enough time to process and implement what I am listening to and reading, and I don’t have a plan or a goal for how to implement what I am learning.
This was definitely an important realisation for me. I have been so intent on learning, and the podcasts I am listening to are so filled with great content from experts I respect, that my head is over-flowing with new information. I often listen to great episodes multiple times. I take notes too. And I actually do implement ideas and advice.
But here is the insight – you can only do so much of that before it starts to get overwhelming and the list of the things you have decided to implement gets out of control – from that point onwards, something great starts to have a negative association.
I think the other thing going on here is that the content I am listening to/reading relates to different aspects of the business I'm running - ranging from strategies for the beginner right through to the more advanced. As is my nature, instead of taking one great lesson and applying it, my mind immediately tries to process and apply EVERYTHING.
So what to do instead?
As all of you business owners know, there are lots of different areas that you need to be across when running a business.
If I can equate this to some sort of course, there are different modules or subjects that you will be studying as part of the syllabus - some concurrent,some sequential. So here is my first tip. Identify the ‘course’ you are wanting to take, the level you think you are at, and the subjects that are contained in that course outline. Then overlay all the different things you are reading,listening to, watching and participating in, and align them to the ‘course’ you have just ‘signed up to’. Why is this powerful? Because instead of trying to learn everything at once, you now have a clear picture of where you are and what you need to learn right now. Think of this as a vision exercise for your learning (and yes, we all know that I am obsessive about having a vision). The minute I had this insight, I realised that this is exactly what I hadn’t been doing. I hadn’t actually created a vision for what I needed/wanted to learn and mapped it out. As a consequence, I was taking a bit of everything in a mish-mash of information that I was trying to process all at once. Hello!
Now I know what I need to focus on and implement as a priority. This doesn’t mean I have stopped listening to a heap of content that may be over my head or not relevant to me right now – this is still great learning and context.
The difference is that now I don’t feel like I need to do something with it immediately!
Here is a quick example of how you can do this too:
Whilst this may seem like a lot of planning and structure – especially for those of you who love to work organically – take it from me, this simple exercise makes you focus, get clarity and then sets you up to get the most out of your learning investment.
Try it and let me know how you go!
If you need help:
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