Column: Making smart changes

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Did you happen to catch that great article on building a 24/7 marketing plan in last month’s issue of Entrepreneur®?  What about Fast Company’s® story on your laptop becoming obsolete?  I’m sure you also got a lot of great ideas from reading a few of 2014’s bestselling business books which included The Energy Bus and The 10 Day MBA?

If you are taking the time to read this article then you, like me, are an avid learner.  Some people might even call us obsessed with reading, listening to books on CD and self-improvement.

The opportunities to absorb information (read, listen or watch) that will help us both personally and professionally are absolutely unlimited.   If you have any doubt just visit Google or Amazon and list a topic that you want to learn more about.

And, let me make this clear, even though every single topic has been addressed by someone already, these informational outlets (books, blogs, podcasts, etc.) are going to continue providing you with more information than you ever thought possible.  In addition, with the help of technology these self and business improvement opportunities will be jammed into your face everywhere you turn.

And so, this proliferation of information begs the question – “Is there anything wrong with all of this continual learning?”  My answer is – absolutely not.  I am a firm believer that we should always spend time learning and improving ourselves.  It is an undeniable physical law of the universe that if you are not getting better you are getting worse.

However, as you know, it is very easy to get overwhelmed with all of this information or opportunities for improvement.  We have all said to ourselves – “I must change immediately!” after finishing a book, reading a magazine or leaving a workshop.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to change or improve.  The problem arises when we get obsessed with this desire to change every single time we learn something new.

We all have had a boss (or been the boss) who announces at almost every single staff meeting – “Forget our discussions from last week!  I just read a great new book on marketing and we are going to change everything!”  The obvious problem is that your team will eventually begin to tune you out because they know that you will eventually forget all about the current objectives and latch onto something new.

The answer to this dilemma is not to stop learning.  Rather, the solution to this challenge is to know the difference between a learning that should lead to an immediate change and the information that is just interesting and should be neatly tucked away into your subconscious.

The key to 2015 is not to identify a boatload of new and amazing ideas.  Those are everywhere.  The key to 2015 is to understand which of these ideas should be embraced and which of these should be filed away as interesting (and even really helpful) but not relevant based upon my current goals and priorities.

Resist the temptation to embrace and implement all good ideas this year.  Work hard to make 2015 the year to simplify your thinking and practice the discipline of putting everything else on the back burner.

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