A Year Of Self-Improvement

Based on J.D. Meier’s 30 day improvement sprints, here are some of the self-improvement areas I’m planning for 2009 (not in any particular order):

Speed Reading. Lately, I’ve been quite interested in developing my reading abilities, so I’ve started reading books and doing some exercises on speed reading. I’ll try to improve my speed reading abilities with greater retention of information and comprehension of the material read.

Crucial Conversations. Time to review and improve my crucial conversations skills. I think I’ll re-read the book, and review the audio files that I keep on my MP3 player for some "easy listening".

Blogging/Writing. I really enjoy blogging and writing. However, it’s not something that comes out easily and, over the years, I have had feedback that my writing skills have become more and more "telegraphic". I’m hoping that focusing on my writing skills will also help develop other communication skills.

Coaching. In the past year I’ve had a chance to work with a career coach and found the experience rewarding and valuable. I have found great personal fulfillment in mentoring others as well, so I’m planning on learning how to become a better mentor and a career and business coach to my mentees.

Running. Although I have a sedentary job (sitting at the computer all day long), I have always been a relatively active person. However, in the past couple of years I haven’t trained as regularly as I wish I had. Running is something I really enjoy doing and one of the few things I don’t even mind doing at the local gym. If I have some music or some podcasts I wish to listen to, I can run a few miles easily. My ultimate goal is to resume my workout and build it into a routine, incorporating it into my daily activities.

Japanese. I’ve always had a "knack" for foreign languages and I’ve always had a deep interest in the Japanese culture. So, about five years ago I started learning Japanese. Unfortunately the class schedule became incompatible with my other responsibilities and I had to stop attending. I managed to keep self-teaching it but have to focus in order to get to a different level.

Iaido. This is the centuries old traditional Japanese swordsmanship art. Even today, iaido follows the traditional rites of a bygone era. Like any koryu (traditional martial art), the study of iaido (and, ultimately, budo) is a life-long, often elusive pursuit. This year, I want to focus and really push myself to a higher level of practice.

Presentation Skills. I have to admit how envious I am of all great public communicators. Those people who can make complex topics accessible to laymen and have the ability to really connect with the audience. In my job I also have to do some public speaking. Although I am aware that I’m not bad (at least according to the feedback stats I get from my sessions), I’m also aware that I’m not great. So,  even though I’ve had a couple of presentation skills training, I think I really need to focus on this topic to be able to go from good to great.

Networking. Increase my influence by extending my network. I’m an I type (MBTI), so networking is not something that I do naturally and with ease. However, I do recognize the importance networking bears in a career, especially when your ability to achieve results also depends on your ability to influence others either directly or indirectly.


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