The start of a new year is almost upon us, and this is the time when our thoughts turn to what next year might bring, both personally and professionally. There’s one thing I’ve found to be universally true: Your life, your business and your career all flow out of who you are. Your life gets better when you get better.
As you end this year and look back on what you’ve attained in 2010, the fact is you were perfectly aligned to get the results you got. How do you get different results in 2011? You must change your alignment. In the paragraphs below, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how to do just that. You’ll learn where to place your focus so you can become better, and that’s when you’ll experience a better 2011.
1. Pursue what you love: The proof of desire is in the pursuit. Desire causes you to push forward so you can reach your target. The best Christmas present you could give yourself is permission to pursue the desire of your heart, the one you’ve been deferring for years. If you’ve already started to pursue it, how can you crank up the intensity in 2011 and push forward in a whole new and empowered way? Whether you’re considering a completely different path, or you want to be the best in your current field, pursuing it with all your heart will make you so much better.
2. Turn knowledge into understanding: It can be fun to learn new things, but instead of learning, we often turn training into a form of entertainment. When we execute what we already know, it begins to convert knowledge into understanding. You already know some things about what you do or what you’d like to do. How can you take that knowledge and increase its quotient so you know more than anyone else? Imagine this: You are the expert in your field. Not only did you thrown away the manual a long time ago, but you’ve also become a walking manual and the standard by which all others are measured.
3. Religiously conduct intense practice: Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent. Put the same amount of focus and energy into practicing as you do the real thing. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that research has proven it takes 40,000 hours to attain mastery over something. If you can’t put in that many hours of live work, practice is a great way to make up the difference. Schedule your practice time with no interruptions and for no more than 90 minutes at a time. Evidence has shown that great performers practice no more that four and a half hours per day.
4. Get strong feedback: Everyone has blind spots, and if they are not discovered and addressed, they can be career killers and wreck havoc on those around us. Once you know your blind spots, they are no longer blind spots. It’s much like locating blind spots while driving. You know a car could be obscured from your line of sight, so you look in all your mirrors to make sure you avoid crashing into a car that could be hidden within that blind spot.
You need people whom you trust to give you honest feedback to identify what’s in your blind spots. Important note: Giving honest and accurate feedback is the No. 1 skill most people lack, so be very careful whom you choose for this.
5. Schedule your renewal time: Work your time budget as seriously as you work your financial budget. You require regularly scheduled times to relax and rejuvenate to give what you’ve learned and practiced time to metabolize. Every entrepreneur should take at least one regular workday off per quarter and do nothing concerning his or her business. No phone, no e-mail, no reading; everything to do with business should be shut off that day. You’ll be amazed by the difference this will make.
6. First things first; other things second: Staying focused is the biggest challenge faced at every level of leadership today. As we achieve our goals and continue to grow, distractions multiply. Losing the focus on our priorities causes us to alter our trajectory away from the achievement of our goals. Keep your priorities in their proper order, and don’t get distracted. Finding focus is not difficult; keeping focus is. v
Tony Richards is a leader in the area of personal development and senior partner of Clear Vision Development Group, a Columbia-based leadership coaching and training firm. Visit them online at
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