The 10’s decade has come to a close. What kind of a mark have you left on the world? Or, more importantly, what kind of mark are you going to leave on the world?
The people that make the biggest impression aren’t often the ones that do one big thing that changes the world. Often, the life-changing impact you see them make stems from consistent progress in their personal lives.
These people don’t let groupthink sweep them along. They’re not afraid to try new things. And they’re willing to think outside the box.
With that in mind, here are 5 ways to think step up your personal and professional game in 2020:
1. Read More Books
In today’s world, we’re bombarded with information constantly. And most of it just goes over our heads. Think about it. At every spare minute most people pick up their phones and browse social media.
What if this year, you carried a small book with you everywhere? Instead of picking up your phone when you’re bored, pick up the book and read.
This is one small change that you can make to be intentional about your personal education.
A couple more tips to get yourself in the habit of learning through reading:
- Don’t worry so much about reading the “right books”. Start with things you’re interested in. The more you read, the more your curiosity will grow, and the more your interests will expand. Try it—you’ll be surprised how well this works!
- If someone gives you a book recommendation, go ahead and buy the book.
- If you like a book, don’t be afraid to read it twice!
- Write Amazon reviews about books you love. Not only does this cement the information you learned in your brain, but it establishes you as a person who thinks critically about what you’re reading.
- Ask for book recommendations from people you look up too. And give more recommendations!
Not sure what to read? Here are some of our favorite books to get started with. 👈
2. Get a Job in a Tech Startup
Want money, work experience, and an education all in one package? Startups are the perfect place to get just that.
Here’s the thing: most people don’t get much more than one year of work experience repeated over and over again. Some of that is personal choice, sure. But some of that is related to work environment.
If you’re working a cubicle job doing the same thing every day, will you be excited and passionate about learning and growing as an individual? Probably not.
But imagine working in a place where:
- it’s understood that you move fast and break things
- your ideas are valued
- constant research is necessary for survival
- hard work and quick thinking hold high value
- you can work with people who have successfully built functional company
That’s what startup life is like. It takes grit, forward tilt, and hard work. But working at a startup is one of the best investments you can make into your education and your career.
I truly think tech startups are where the front lines of higher education are moving. The best and brightest are taking advantage of this while the ideas is young!
I break this idea down more in this article about why tech apprenticeships are the future of higher ed.
3. Re-evaluate your education investments.
Startups are a low-cost, high-return education investment for those of you who are willing to put the work in. On the other hand, the educational options most young people choose tend to be high-cost and low-return.
While the degree may be necessary for jobs in the medical and law fields, in most cases the combination of a strong personal brand, projects documenting your skills, and experience are a much stronger signal than a piece of paper.
Here are a couple things to consider when considering your 2020 education investments:
- Can I learn this faster, better, or cheaper elsewhere?
- Compared to what?
- What are the repercussions if this doesn’t work out?
- Why is this valuable to me?
And if you think college is your only option, check out these alternatives before making a final decision.
4. Listen to podcasts!
Podcasts are, in my opinion, one of the fastest ways to dive into almost any topic you’re interested in. They’re also a great way to learn basic information about a wide range of topics as well!
Here are some of my favorite life hacks for podcasts:
- When you’re meeting someone new, research a bit into what their interests are and listen to several podcast episodes on these topics. This gives you the ability to ask good questions about the things they enjoy talking about!
- Find podcasts that have episodes that are similar in length to your commute time.
- Take a walk every day that is the length of a podcast episode (maybe not the Joe Rogan Experience though, unless you’re up for a walk that lasts several hours!)
- Make it a practice to recommend a podcast episode to people you meet. Or just take a moment to email it to someone who you think will appreciate it. Takes about a minute, and it’s a simple way of investing in someone!
Just getting started with podcasts? I asked the Praxis community for a couple suggestions to get you started: here they are!
5. Learn more software tools
No matter what role you work in or what you want to do, there are so many tools that are handy to know. Companies don’t just want people with ideas, they want people who can find the quickest, fastest way of getting work done. Often software tools are the solution to working faster and better!
Secondly, knowing how to use tools that aren’t even related to your specific job can come in handy. For example, if you’re a sales guy that also knows how to edit videos, you’ll be one of the most valuable people to the company regardless of your level of experience. Why? Because there probably isn’t anyone else at the company with your specific skillset.
In my opinion, one of the best things you can do as a young professional is just learn how to use and document tools that are interesting to you. It doesn’t matter if they’re not related to your field of study or your role type. In fact, it’s more useful if they’re completely different.
By learning these tools you’re giving yourself an intersecting skillset that will serve you well in the long-term!