When Was the Last Time You Learned Something Just for Fun?

Remember how when you were a kid and learning seemed so compartmentalized? Learning happened at school (or at home when you did your homework), the rest of your time was for fun. For nine months out of the year, learning was your job. When the adults went to work, the kids went to school.

I was reminded about this when Brittany, Spring Insight’s marketing manager, told me her five-year-old son, Caleb, protested that he didn’t want to do his school work, since he “didn’t want to learn today.” She responded by breaking the news that she is ALWAYS learning something new and learning new things is how we better ourselves.

As you can imagine, Caleb wasn’t that thrilled with her reply (or with having to do his work). But it did get me thinking: What have I learned lately that is really new? (No, what an “AirPod” is doesn’t count.) I decided to challenge myself to learn something new by the end of the year and commit to it here.

So, I am committing to learn to knit (and actually to knit something usable) by the end of the year. Yep. I’ll be the hockey mom cheering from the stands knitting needles in hand.

And since it’s always easier to follow through when you have others by your side, I challenged the Spring Insight team to commit to learning something new too. (Hey, I don’t usually go in for “team-building” exercises and at least I’m not asking them to do any trust falls, right?)

Here’s what they said:

Brittany, Spring Insight Marketing Manager: “I would really like to learn/explore obtaining a sense of overall peace in my sometimes chaotic life.”

Brittany’s plan is somehow both more practical and more ambitious than learning how to knit a scarf. Finding a bit of calm within the storm of taking care of two boys under the age of five (one of which is partially home-schooled), running her marketing business from home, and keeping the house running as she keeps our marketing team running will be no small feat.

What practical and ambitious goal do you have for your business? Is this the year you finally make the shift to working with corporate clients instead of or in addition to individuals? Are you ready to scale up by opening that second retail location or hiring someone to manage your accounts? Have a dream marketing campaign in mind? Ready to give your website that strategic overhaul, instead of just tinkering with it here and there? Let this be the nudge you need to make it happen.

Emily, Spring Insight Copywriter: “I’d like to learn how to do a handstand by the end of the year. Some days on my yoga mat, that seems attainable, other days, not so much.”

Now I’m picturing Emily standing on her head, upside-down during our weekly call-in marketing meetings. As a writer, she can do those random things and no one bats an eye. Emily has been practicing yoga five or six days per week for over two years. It has helped her find clarity both in her life and in her business. I’m not sure how being able to do a handstand helps anyone find enlightenment, but I’m sure it does take focus and determination.

As a small business owner, you know that focus and determination are important core values in business too. When you are working on adding to your pipeline, determination is key. How many times have you heard from a potential client, “we just have too many balls in the air to make a commitment right now?” The more you can give them the vision of running their business while you solve problems for them, the more likely they are to take the next step. Instead of paying lip service to focus and determination, serve it up to your clients on a shiny platter.

Bret, Spring Insight Developer: “I’d like to learn to dress a bit more professionally. Now that winter is coming and I am forced to give up flip-flops and tank-tops, I should probably clean up my act.”

 Bret’s goal sounds very realistic, but for a guy who has mastered the art of working to live, instead of living to work, finding the motivation to dress professionally is not so easy. We don’t expect to see Bret on the cover of GQ or anything, but I am looking forward to seeing the new look during out next virtual team meeting.

This is a good reminder that professionalism is somewhat relative to your industry and of course, it’s about a lot more than how you dress. While it’s important to align yourself with expectations, be mindful about letting your ideal vision of professionalism become the enemy of getting work done. Don’t let worries of professionalism become an excuse for not putting yourself out there. Often entrepreneurs hesitate, for example, to launch their websites because they are too focused on getting the message or the design just right. Remember that it’s better to put your work out there and then make adjustments down the road.

Feeling stuck in a rut? Spring Insight can help with business strategy. Sometimes all it takes to meet your goals, whether it’s to learn something new or to take your business in a whole new direction, is someone to give you a nudge in the right direction. Contact us today.

So, will you join us? What will you commit to learn? Send me an email, post in comments below, tag us on social media (Twitter, Google+, or Facebook), whatever.

We can’t wait to report back on all of the results!

Photo attribution: License – Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0 Creator – NY – http://nyphotographic.com/ Date first licensed – June 2016 Original Image- http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/l/learning.html