Let’s face it- staying current when we are all running so fast – is hard! Yet, it is vital is we wish to differentiate ourselves in this ever changing and competitive professional arena. So, how can we stay current and gain relevant knowledge most effectively…and when can we do this?!!
Here are a few suggestions to make use of every spare minute and use that time to ‘up our game’
1. Read everything. EVERYTHING. Often we gain our greatest ‘ah ha’s’ from the most unsuspecting sources. From the funny papers, the AARP magazine, Success magazine, the pervasive number of blogs found on the internet, the brochures in any number of service offices we patron, OPRAH magazine….the list is endless. Even if you only read 1-2 sentences….one never knows when the best idea will surface!
2. Keep a journal. Write things down. These musings can be a word, a phrase, a brilliant idea, or a ‘to do’ list. What I have learned, sometime my best ideas come at the weirdest times – and if I don’t write them down, sometimes they can get lost in the fray. So, capture those ideas and at the end of each day – go back and read what you wrote. These will multiply in our mind’s eye…and that is like living it all over again. Powerful…and it helps with the ‘sticky factor’.
3. Surf the web. Now, I am not just referring to diving into the black hole of the infamous Facebook and online social sites – I am suggesting you seek out an area in which you are interested and ‘surf’ for 30 minutes or so to learn as much as you can about that topic. This could be about your competitor, or a person whom you admire, or a subject in which you want to learn more…the list is infinite. This is not about spending hours…this is about seeking out targeted webinars, blogs, social media accounts of industry experts, etc. so you can track the latest trends AND gain knowledge. And this can be done over your morning coffee, on a quick flight, or as you wait at the doctor’s office! Also you can sign up for alerts from these sites (Google Alerts) so they come directly to your inbox. All very easy – and this does not have to be a full time job! It can easily be integrated into the nooks and crannies of your life.
4. Reach out – in person and online. In the 1980’s and 90’s, the ‘thing’ to do was to attend networking events in our respective industries. This could easily take up 4-5 hours a week. Yes, those business associations and professional groups have tremendous value; yet, let’s face it – it can be a real time sink! So, in addition to fostering these ‘in person’ relationships, in this new world…..I am suggesting we reach out to like-minded folks online. I use LinkedIn to connect with groups who share information which can be of value AND remember, we must pay it forward. When we join these groups, the key is to offer comments, resources, and insights to them – as well as gleaning information from the group. They call is social media for a reason! We have to make the discussion bi-directional and give as must as we take!
5. Continuing Education is a more time intensive (and financial investment) – yet it is extremely important. Whether your profession requires this or not, it is important that we stay relevant and demonstrate a commitment to our professions. Given that I have chosen a portfolio career (aka: I run 3 separate companies, which though related, are not identical); I personally made a commitment to attend at least one retreat or continuing education course a year, for each of these companies. This equates easily to a 90-100 hour commitment annually. One course may be about how to build a compelling brand around the books I write; another may be about the stages of adult development for my leadership consulting business; and still another may be to elevate my understanding of the digital marketplace. Regardless, staying on top of ‘what is working’ and ‘what is new’ in these respective marketplaces is critical for me to stay current and to help increase my income from these various businesses.
No matter what approach you choose, maintaining our relevance, knowledge of market trends, and desire to be a life-long learner, is imperative to show our clients and team members that we are dedicated and committed to improving our skills and building our knowledge. From my perspective, staying current in the new currency. Period.