Two habits for a successful 2020

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Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

How long will your New Year’s resolutions last? And what will you do once you have broken them?

Ditch them and the guilt that goes along with them. Here are two easy habits that will propel your career this year.

1 Try new stuff

This year, someone will put you in an uncomfortable position. You’ll have to do something you’re not skilled or experienced at.

That might be managing, raising money, writing, marketing, making cold calls, traveling, working a trade show booth, giving presentations, hiring people, firing people, training people, . . . really, it could be anything. But you’ll probably face a new and unfamiliar task every week.

You can cower and hide. Or you can embrace the new.

Remove these words from your vocabulary: “I don’t know how to do that,” “I’m afraid I’ll fail,” “I’ve never done that before,” “I don’t have the background.”

Replace them with “I’m willing to learn,” “What’s the best way to do that?”, “Can you point me to some resources,” and “Sure, I’m willing to try.”

When people ask you to do something new, there’s rarely much of a penalty for failing. They expect it to be rocky at first, and they know you’ll get better.

But there sure is an upside: you’ll add a skill to your portfolio. And that’s how growth and advancement happens.

2 Observe your reactions

This applies not just to the new things, but the old things. Develop a habit of introspection. Ask yourself this simple question: “What did I like about that?” and “What did I not like about that?”

Maybe when you do training for the first time, you find out that you hate the planning but you love the interactions with learners.

When you do writing, you might learn that you love research but hate being edited.

You might learn that you love standing in front of a group and speaking. Or that you love manipulating data in spreadsheets. Or that you love writing code.

These are crucial clues to where you are going. Once you figure out, at a detail level, what you like, you can pursue doing more of it.

This helps you achieve success (which is spending most of your work doing what you love), as compared to “success” (which is achieving some milestone that others set out for you, but that doesn’t make you happy).

(If you need a manual on how to do this, Limitless is a good start.)

Resolve to adopt these ways of thinking

It’s pretty simple. Embrace the opportunity to do new things; observe what you like and what you don’t.

Do that and you’ll be better off at the end of 2020 than you were at the start.

Or you could keep plowing “ahead,” oblivious to what makes a difference to you, and let the world set your path for you.

Passengers might have a nice view, but drivers are the ones that get where they want to go.

3 responses to “Two habits for a successful 2020

  1. Thanks Josh. I’m merrily listening to it now. Like it – good suggestion. I can see this leading me to a different direction from what I do now… probably going to take a little while. I love what I do, but I have other things that I’d love to do somewhat more. Getting going in those directions will be good.

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