I spent the first week of self-employment making to-do lists in an attempt to stay focused. I still spent way too many hours watching silly shows on Netflix, but it was a step forward.
I also spent the first week of self-employment realizing just how much I do not know: about running a start-up, the communications/marketing/PR space, and many of the skills that I need to learn and improve to bootstrap Impassion to success.
And that got me thinking – why do people make to-do lists, but not to-learn lists?
After all, to-do lists keep us on track; they remind us of impending deadlines – but they are also about what’s urgent. They are inherently short-term. To-learn lists, on the other hand require time and commitment; you can’t just cross an item off immediately. Whereas to-do lists are about keeping you on track and on-time, to-learn lists keep you true to your priorities and values. They encourage personal and professional growth.
And I need a lot of growth. So here’s my to-learn list for the next year.
- Spreadsheets – Not a sexy topic to start off with, but my last job showed just how much of an Excel amateur I was. Luckily, Harvard Business Review has some fantastic online courses, such as Spreadsheet Modeling, which I just signed up for.
- Chinese – Spending hours at the visa office last week revealed just how much my Chinese has regressed, so I’m going to come up with a plan to bring my Chinese back to true fluency. In addition to a course or two in Business Chinese, I’m thinking of finding some conversation buddies in NYC, and committing to speaking to my mother exclusively in Mandarin.
- Creative writing – I used to dream of being a writer, but I never took an English class after high school. Granted, I had some amazing high school English teachers and write well, but it’s about time that I rehone my craft. I’m currently looking into some writing workshops and retreats.
- Photography – Despite my quickly-aborted attempts at learning to use my DSLR to its full potential, I think it’s time to take a class to give my learning some structure.
- Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator – While using Keynote and Microsoft Word templates for graphic design may be resourceful, I think it’s time to invest in some quality software. And that means investing some time to actually learn the software.
I’ll give myself a year to work on these 5 goals, with monthly check-ins to keep myself accountable.
What’s on your to-learn list?