Following my previous article on taking the first step to make a change, I’m grateful to the many people who took the time to offer their thoughts through comments and messages. It’s truly a blessing to be able to share ideas and know that they provide some help and guidance to people who want to take it to the next level.
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One message that particularly grabbed my attention was from a graduate. She had a few great ideas about where her career could go and how she could make a difference. And while she was inspired by the article on finding the courage to just start, like a lot of people, she found that although there was a desire to get on with bringing her ideas to life, there was no obvious starting point.
It’s time to make an effective change.
Although not exclusive to young graduates and professionals, I find there’s a pattern among younger people who, despite being highly intelligent and skilled, sometimes lack the necessary experience to know exactly how to get a head start.
This isn’t an issue that’s solely experienced by young people; however, I wonder if perhaps we leaders can sometimes forget that we also had our struggles to overcome in the beginning. In our forgetfulness that what now comes naturally to us was initially challenging, we should remember that people sometimes need a direct guiding hand to start them off.
It’s with that in mind that I re-share some of the tips from my previous article, only this time going a little more in-depth into why a particular step is important.
On that note, here are five ways that can help you to get started on making an effective change (timely as we start the new year):
1. Read, a lot…
I always give this advice to anyone who’s looking to improve themselves in any way. It’s a piece of advice you hear all the time… but it’s one that’s heeded by far fewer people than you imagine. Why? Because reading self-development books takes effort – and who has time for that? Successful people, that’s who. The top 1%, to be exact, along with a great number of others.
Research carried out by habit and wealth creation expert Tom Corley shows that, while less successful people read mostly for entertainment, those at the top are avid readers of self-improvement books. In fact, 85% of successful people read two or more self-improvement or educational books per month.
Most people stop actively learning once they leave education, or they at least learn nothing new outside their own field of interest. By reading three good quality books on any given subject, you’ll likely have an edge over most of your peers.
It also provides you with tonnes of ideas that offer endless possibilities.
2. Speak to leaders in your area of interest
Scout around for a mentor who can help you to figure out where you want to go and how to get there. Almost all leaders (time allowing) are happy to offer their advice and insights – particularly if you throw in a free lunch!
Being active in seeking out people who are where you want to be can help you avoid a lot of pitfalls and obstacles that you’d otherwise encounter. Most of the time, people are afraid to learn by doing because they feel they don’t know enough about what they’re trying to do.
Therefore, the smart move is to talk to people who have gone through every problem, challenge and hurdle you’re likely to face. Who better to provide the right balance of encouragement and constructive advice that you need?
3. Attend relevant events, conferences or workshops
There are so many avenues for learning available these days to anyone who takes the initiative to access them. There is an abundance of events and workshops available on just about any topic of interest. This presents you with a valuable opportunity to learn from, connect and share ideas with a lot of like-minded people who can potentially become your network base.
While romantic stories exist of successful start-ups or careers having begun in garages or dorm rooms, these are exceptional occurrences. To make the best use of your skills and ideas, connecting with as many people as possible is a great way to inspire and inform the kinds of choices you’ll want to make along the way.
From there, while maintaining positive connections, you might want to focus more on a select few whom you feel can add real value to what you’re trying to achieve.
4. Set specific goals
These can range from the minor to the major, and they’ll all tie in to pushing you farther along the path you wish to travel. For example, reading two educational books per month is a specific goal as opposed to “reading more”.
Making connections with three key people and inviting them to lunch is a specific goal, rather than “building a network”. Be specific in the goals that you set yourself, because this will help to maintain your direction and focus in building towards something more concrete. You can set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals.
Whatever the goals, the idea is to make sure that they’re actually helping you towards something, rather than making up a generic to-do list that is unlikely to be completed and will leave you feeling demoralised.
While it’s important to have some idea of where you want to be in five years’ time, this shouldn’t be your main focus. Your main focus should be: What am I doing with the next 16 hours of my day that I’m awake?
Recently, someone complained to me that they didn’t have enough time in the day. I advised them to get an app that tracks their smartphone and social media usage per day.
On average, they were using up to seven hours of their time on non-urgent tasks. Let’s be generous and say that two hours of that time were productively spent. Across Monday-to-Friday, that’s still 25 hours of time – more than one full day gone! You have more time than you think, and it’s always unfolding.
Roshan is the Founder and “Kuli” of the Leaderonomics Group of companies. He believes that everyone can be a leader and "make a dent in the universe," in their own special ways. He is featured on TV, radio and numerous publications sharing the Science of Building Leaders and on leadership development. Follow him at www.roshanthiran.com
Nick Jonsson, Co-Founder and Managing Director EGN Singapore and Author of Executive Loneliness, an International Best Seller joins us this week to discuss share his insights on the topic of loneliness.