learning just one thingMost of the time the New Year’s Resolution list is a mile long. But how much of last year’s list did you get accomplished? I am cringing here a bit realizing the things I didn’t accomplish. If you did all of it — or if you can even find your 2014 resolution list — congratulations! You are amazing. But most of us are not amazing in quite the same way and we need to change our tactics.

When you focus on learning one thing, more than one thing actually happens. Here’s a short list of the potential side effects:

It’s new, you are learning it so you might fail at first and make mistakes. Learning to see First Attempt In Learning instead of FAIL is going to change the way you see your own shortcomings. It should change the way you see other’s shortcomings, too.

Developing a skill or competence in any area gives you confidence — you may not be perfect at it, but you are better than you were last year.

In fact, having the realization that you are lousy at something keeps you humble and likeable — great leaders know when to let an expert do something instead of pretending they can do it all.

The fact that you are choosing to learn something makes you interesting to talk to — it’s a great subject for the dreaded “tell me about yourself” moments.

Actively learning changes the dynamic of your thought process — your brain kicks into gear and you keep learning in other areas of life.

Doing something even if you hate it—OK, so maybe hate is a strong word and I am probably just referring to my own feelings about exercise, but just this year I thought, “I hate to exercise. But I’m going to do it anyway.” I used to tell myself I liked it, and then wondered why I would stop doing it. So, if you hate or dislike something –online classes, writing a blog post, meeting new people, etc. – admit it to yourself and do it anyway. Force yourself to go to an after work meet up. You might even meet someone who will open doors for you.

Being an active learner spills into naturally doing some of those resolutions you didn’t get to last year — things like organization or moving more are natural byproducts of the commitment to learn your one thing.

If your one thing is job related, remember to update your resume — and if it isn’t, recognize that it’s still a valuable process.

When you value learning enough to start moving in that direction, the law of inertia kicks in. It’s hard to get a body at rest to start moving, but once that body is moving, it keeps going forward. Learning just one thing this coming year will be like planting one seed that bears a harvest of good things in your career. What will you choose to learn in 2015?

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