Looking Beyond a New Year’s Resolution

Looking Beyond a New Year’s Resolution

My new year’s resolutions have never been as good as they should be. Like last year when I thought I came up with a great one…only to hear about my friends’ resolutions.  They were all going above and beyond with self-improvement, and I was just hoping to be a little more focused. This year I’ve decided I don’t want to go through the deliberation, the competition, the judgment and inevitable guilt that comes every year when I consider my resolutions.

I’ve been thinking about how to invest my time in better ways that will take me well beyond January or even 2020, and into this phase of life. It’s about a new beginning. I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, “What are some of the things I would like to see in the next 20 years of my life?”

That’s why this year, I’m going beyond a “New Year’s Resolution.”

I’m thinking about behaviors I can adapt now that will change me for the rest of my life. I’m not thinking about losing weight for the next few months, I would like to create or modify a life plan of sorts.  Have you ever considered making subtle changes that compound over time to create a possible all together new outcome?

Maybe I should call this the next-century resolution. . .

That led me to think about what types of things that where subtle changes that could lead to vastly different outcomes. Lifelong learning immediately came to mind. I’m not referring to anything too complex, like going back to get a triple PhD, but rather the type of learning that is more in line with journeying. 

What does an ongoing journey of learning look like for me?

Here are some of the things that came to mind for me:

Travel. Going to new places, learning about new cultures, maybe even working in a new culture.  Think of industry shows at other countries, mission work, social justice projects, etc.  that could be both domestic and international. 

Vocational change. I have a friend whose mom decided to go back to school at age 62 to become a psychologist. If you’re interested in it (I am not sure I am that smart), why not go for it? It’s never too late to learn a trade.

Share ideas. Ongoing engagement in some sort of a brain trust or external partner groups, such as Vistage, YPO or Peer Groups.  What about starting or joining an investment club where you each pitch in and invest, and once a month you get together and play cards and talk about your investments? What about book clubs or garden clubs?

Take risks. What about exploring new things you have never imagined doing – like hiking, bird watching, or taking up a new sport? I love to see Empty Nesters signing up for vacations that are more than just a trip, but immersive experiences where new skills are taught, like painting or cooking.

Mentor. Long-running mentor relationships inside and outside their industry or both are key to lifelong learning, and can be especially impactful whether you are the mentee or the mentor.

Read. Establishing a rhythm, or a steady diet, as some call it, of reading business books or self-help books just expands the mind and gives new perspective.

Write & reflect. This could include journaling consistently about small but ongoing learning and experiences.  Like, the trip I recently took to …..  What are some things I observed, and how did they impact me? 

Map & plan. Finally, I created a one-page time allocation map to accompany my resolution. This document simply highlights the amount of time I want to allocate to each area, either daily, weekly, monthly or annually. I was not exacting, but merely estimated based on my desire and abilities. The map is not perfect but it will hold me accountable.

As a leader, have you created your strategy for lifelong learning in order to lead well and live?

Here are some thoughts to enhance your current strategy, or to start a new one for you and your team:

  1. Consider owning your learning and inspiration! Take control of it! 
  2. Set learning and inspiration goals! This could be a field trip.
  3. Join a Peer Group. This could be any interest, age or through work.
  4. Connect with a mentor. Find somebody younger or older who you can learn from.
  5. Don’t ignore mistakes, instead use them to inspire learning, that’s a good motivator! 
  6. Identify habits that keep you from learning and eliminate them one at a time.
  7. Start new learning habits, one at a time!
  8. Begin to journal to capture your journey and create a storyline. If we can imagine what the story will look like for the next 20 years, we can be inspired to live it out.

Abraham Lincoln said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” I believe a lifelong learning plan would allow us to create a better future for our industry, our teams, and our families!

Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.

Want to continue the conversation? Subscribe to Yasser Youssef’s blog or contact him to talk about speaking engagements.