Learn Something Unrelated. Kick Your Career Up a Notch.

Learning something new gets our attention. It reminds us we have skills to build on,

By: Alan L

dormant interests ready for the light, and talents (latent or otherwise) screaming for an outlet.

It you want to build self-confidence and give your career trajectory a shot in the glutes, find something unrelated to your job and learn it.

Embrace the counterintuitive.

We’re told at work that we need to develop our skills and expand job knowledge. We’re scheduled for training classes, assigned reading, and sometimes told to find a mentor.

We do all that, work hard to master tasks, and wonder why we don’t feel like we’re really growing.

The sad fact is that most employee development programs aren’t geared to releasing our creative energies, raising self-awareness, or expanding the reach of our experiences.

Expansive growth comes from realizing more about ourselves by learning something new, with all the discovery and surprise it brings.

Learning opens gates of knowledge, skill, and awareness. It’s liberating. You decide and commit to what you want to learn, how, and when. Every piece of it reveals something important to you and about you:

  • Can I learn this new information or skill? Do have the aptitude?
  • Do I like doing what it takes to learn it?
  • Is it what I thought it was before I got started? Do I want to stick with it?
  • I never thought I could learn about or do this.
  • I wonder where this new knowledge might take me.
  • I’m meeting new and interesting people who share my interests.
  • I’m developing transferable skills and experiences, building self-confidence.

Each of us brings to our jobs creativity, insight, and connections that complement the performance skills our work requires. To enrich that, we need to keep learning and exposing ourselves to worlds outside of work.

Get started.

Learning is a forever part of our lives if we want it to be. If you’ve been a bit lax, there’s no time like the present to restart your learning engines.

It’s often easier to say, Just do it, than to act. We often feel awkward about committing to a direction when it’s not what our friends or family expect from us.

You can’t let the opinion of others get in your way. After all, learning is about exploring. It’s not like you’re quitting your job to join the circus. You’re just deciding to learn about or how to do something new, something you’re curious about, have always dreamed of trying, or something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Hey, if you don’t like it, just move on to something else. The key is to pursue something that makes you feel like you’ve added a new component to all that is you.

Learning is about head and heart. It adds insight, experience, connections and even uniqueness. In terms of your career, you’re differentiating yourself, making yourself more interesting, revealing yourself as creative, adventuresome, inventive, and multidimensional.

If you’re still a bit fuzzy about the possibilities, here’s a wildly ranging list of new things to learn that might spark your imagination. Consider learning how to:

  • Play the accordion
  • Use power tools
  • Show cats/train dogs
  • Grow orchids
  • Fossil hunt
  • Write a memoir
  • Raise bees/make honey
  • Become a storyteller
  • Make sushi
  • Learn a foreign or computer language

Each one of these ideas is an opportunity to build one or more career-essential skill outside of your job like: attention to detail, dependability, communication, safety, technical know-how, process management, planning, organizing, and risk-taking. There’s nothing better than growing your skills doing something fun.

Stay committed. Keep reaching.

When I sign copies of my book, Business Fitness, this is my standard inscription: Stay committed. Keep reaching. That’s what your commitment to learning helps you do. Your career is a product of your efforts to expand  yourself and to capitalize on all that you bring to your job. Learning is a faithful friend. Partner up and enjoy the rewards.





11 thoughts on “Learn Something Unrelated. Kick Your Career Up a Notch.

  1. Super tips, Dawn, and I love your list of new things to learn. I always thought the accordion would be a cool instrument to play, but never took it up. Guitar is on my list now, but I haven’t pulled the trigger…you may have just have inspired me to take a shot at it. Your posts always keep me reaching. Thank you!

    • Nothing makes me happier than to offer up a little inspiration. Thanks for this great comment…hummm…guitar. I’ve been thinking about that too. Maybe this is the year of strummin’!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more Dawn, I say this all the time, that as humans we need to constantly challenge ourselves to learn new things. Several years ago I wrote a huge list of things I wanted to accomplish from learning to play the guitar to establishing a Children’s Charity.. Each year I accomplish a few of my goals and what a good feeling it is to cross off a few items each year. I’m still looking to learn to play the guitar and speak Spanish, but baby-steps!

    • It’s great to have a kindred spirit on this message, Heather. It’s fabulous that you made a huge list and started attacking it. I always say it takes a long time to get old so there’s plenty of time to pack a lot of learning into our lives. You are the second commenter today to mention learning how to play the guitar which I’ve been thinking about for some time. I think it’s a sign…so I better make my move. Thanks so much for reading the post and making it richer with your comment. Onward! ~Dawn

  3. Dawn – We must be on the same wavelength. The creative boost from diving into something new, whether for an afternoon or a year, can be so valuable. Watch for my #52new project launching soon and wish me luck on learning to play bridge. And thanks for this marvelous post.

    • Vickie–You know what they way about great minds! Can’t wait to see you #52 project launch. Glad to see you’re stirring the pot. Ah, learning the play bridge…that’s a challenge that eluded me. I think my heart just wasn’t in it. My guess is that you’ll master it because that’s what you do. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment and for the atta girl on that post. It made my day when winter was wearing out my spirit. ~Dawn

  4. Pingback: Best Blogs 10 Jan 14 | ChristopherinHR

    • What a wonderful statement about my post, Christopher. Thanks so much for continuing to honor my ideas and for sharing them with your readers. As always, I am very grateful. ~Dawn

  5. Pingback: Unexpected Discoveries from Unrelated Experiences | Taking My Own Advice | Business Fitness

Leave a Reply