These are some notes I found in in one of the artist sketch pads I use to capture my off-line ideas (yes, I do work offline). They seem particularly appropriate to share in light of yesterday's post on being a "career untouchable."
Tips for Creating a Personal Learning Plan
1. Reflect on successes, challenges, etc., from the previous year. Also reflect on trends in your industry and/or occupation.
- What strengths do you want to further develop?
- What weaknesses do you want to mitigate?
- What specific skills do you want to work on?
2. Brainstorm some learning goals for the next 6 months. Try using the BHAG approach to goal-setting.
3. Ask yourself if these goals make you feel excited and energized. If they don't, keep working on them until they do.
4. Look at your list and ask yourself, "If I could only accomplish two things on this list, what would they be?" Put the rest on a "some day" list.
5. What mini goals do you want to set for yourself? Where do you want to be a week from now, a month from now, two months from now, at the end of your learning experience?
6. How do you want to learn? What resources are available to you? Can you connect with other people who are want to learn the same thing? Come up with a preliminary plan for pursuing your learning. Also give yourself permission to change that plan as you go through your project.
7. Set specific concrete tasks for yourself to accomplish every day.
8. Be sure to set aside time to accomplish those tasks. Consider your energy levels and use times of day where you're more alert and engaged. Learning shouldn't be relegated to when you're exhausted.
9. At least once a week review and reflect upon both what you've been learning and your learning plan. Document your reflections somehow--written in a blog post, record audio or video.
10. Use your reflections on your learning plan to change course if necessary. Have you found another topic you want to pursue? Are you finding that you're interest in your topic is waning? Do you need to change tactics? Refine your plan as you go.
It's critical to pursue learning that gets you really excited and energized, particularly when you won't have the "stick" of your boss or someone else requiring you to learn. That, to me, is one of the most important elements of a personal learning plan.
I also think it's important to try to be purposeful in learning. This is something I'm personally struggling with right now as I've fallen into a bit of a "let the learning wash over me" kind of pattern. I'm reading, I'm writing, I'm observing, I'm doing, but I can't say it's to any particular purpose. That isn't to say that you always need a purpose. Sometimes your learning purpose evolves, rather than being too set at the beginning. But at a minimum I need to be thinking about more questions that I want answers to. Right now I'm letting what I'm reading set the agenda. I need to be clearer about my own questions and how what I'm experiencing leads me to new questions. That's ultimately what a learning plan is--defining for yourself the questions you want answers to and then pursuing learning that helps you both answer those questions and find new ones.