Jim Collins, in an essay in Learning Journeys, wrote, “A true learning person also has a “to-learn” list, and the items on that list carry at least as much weight in how one organizes his or her time as the to-do list.” I happened to read that the other day and it has stayed with me.
I’m going to take up that challenge.
Earlier this year, I read an article about new year’s resolutions, and was surprised that every single person brushed the idea aside as an exercise in failure. Generating a concrete goal list has (for a long time) been a hallmark of the last few months of a year for me, so that I can start out the year with a fresh list of what I want to achieve professionally and personally. My list is not my “business plan” for my job’s performance management system – this is my own personal list for non-work professional commitments and personal goals, as well as broad goals related to my day-to-day work. It’s action-oriented, but very high level. I refer to the list all year long to update tactics for achieving the goals, and then freshen it completely for the new year. Writing my “Commitments” list has helped me to fine-tune my aspirations and vague dreams so I can make them real and keep my sanity. The Commitments are the foundation for my concrete plans and the guide for my decision-making and prioritization. I know this kind of list works.
But starting work on a “to-learn list” has been eye-opening. As I’ve begun to ruminate on my learning goals (many of which are tied to my commitments, as you might guess), I’ve realized why my learning efforts have felt a little scattered lately. There are too many great ideas on the list, they’re not properly focused, and I have no realistic plan in place for tackling these learning goals. That doesn’t bode well for success!
So I have some work to do just to get a to-learn list in place. Jim Collins also wrote, “Learning people also develop explicit learning mechanisms, such as “learning logs” – time explicitly set a side to discuss or reflect on events and extract the maximum knowledge and understanding from them.” I like that idea as well, and am thinking I’ll start a “To-Learn List” blog of sorts (private only) to keep myself focused.
What about you? What would you put on your “to-learn list”?