Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Will You Learn this Year?

One of the blogs I follow,, had a very interesting post for the New Year. Trent Hamm, the author, was asked by a friend what he was going to lear this year. REALLY learn.

This got me to think about what I am going to learn this year. One of the issues I find I struggle with is the fact that I find almost everything fascinating. On the surface, that's not a bad thing. But the problem is that I a have a hard time focusing on any one thing long enough to REALLY understand it before I am off to something else that strikes my fancy.

That seems like a contradiction, becuase I usually think of myself as a fairly goal-oriented person. I pick some large challenge (such as getting my MBA) and I stick with it until the bitter end. However, on the "small stuff", I have a much harder time following through. There are SO many things that I find intriguing that I simply don't have the time to really give it the time it needs. For example, I love dog training. Some day I want to get an obedience title with my Sheltie and possibly (if she's not too old by the time I start), I'd like to get into Fly Ball or Agility. I know a lot about dog training. I have studied and practiced with both my dogs. Yet I still can't get them to consistently behave. I don't blame them. It's not a failure on their part because they are "too dumb". Rather, it's my own lack of ability to stick with their training long enough to see long-term results.

Other examples of things I am interested in, have dabbled with but have not committed to, are: database management, photography, digital imaging, SMS administration (which would also help me professionally), ancient history (specifically Egypt and Greece), music (I'd LOVE to pick up piano and flute again some day), personal finance, video games (specifically role-playing and simulations), cooking, archeology, travel, scrapbooking, reading, etc.

In my defense, I could spend an entire lifetime with any one of these topics and still only scratch the surface. Still, I feel like if I could only narrow down my interests and prioritize my time better, I'd be able to really make a difference in the things I know that are important to me. What to do when there's SO many great and interesting things out there and so little time to learn them?

Trent chose ONE thing this year that he can commit to learning to do well. He had three criteria: he wanted a trivial skill he could master, he wanted something he could use as a parlor trick, and he wanted something he could practice anywhere. This got me thinking. Maybe I could narrow down the things I am interested in to something I could tackle in a relatively short period...such as a year. I can't become a master DBA in one year, or a famous archeologist, but surely there was something I could work on consistently throughout 2009. Trent chose to master the Rubik's Cube. are my ideas. I have two of them:
1. Spend 5 minutes a day on training the dogs. It doesn't even matter if they master a skill. The important thing is that I spend 5 minutes a day on it to get myself into the habit of interacting with them consistently.
2. I want to learn how to play guitar in Rock Band at least "medium" level for all the songs. Yep. That helps me with two things I enjoy: video games and spending more time with my kids.

What do you think? Are these doable for 2009? Now what are YOU going to learn? Share your ideas in the comments.

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