You’ve all heard the famous adage: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Well, if you really want different—and better—results in 2014, it’s time to stop doing what you've always been doing and try a new approach.
Here are four strategies you can use to shake things up in your life and your business and finally make those changes you've been dreaming of:
1. Become A Connector
Often, what changes us the most is the people we meet and the relationships we build with them. So strive to become a connector in 2014. One easy way is to host a dinner party—not with your usual group of friends but by bringing together an interesting mix of colleagues who don’t already know each other. Make a list of people you’d like to get to know better, and think about their points of intersection (“Chris and Robbie are both writing books, and Sherry and Indrani are both world travelers”). Think like a curator: Who would add to the conversation? You’re helping others build valuable connections while having a good time in the process. Best yet, many will want to repay your invitation, exposing you to new people and ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
2. Teach Something
Nothing will transform you like teaching will. When you're preparing your teaching plan, you’re forced to think deeply about your field and develop real content expertise while simultaneously understanding what’s most essential in order to explain it to others. This year, you can become a teacher in a broad sense, by sharing your expertise via social media (blogging is one of the best ways) or by giving talks. Or you can drill down further and help individuals. Tutor someone at work who could benefit from your skills, volunteer with a nonprofit organization, or sign up to teach a class at a college, an adult education center or one of the new crop of learning hubs such as General Assembly.
3. Travel Smarter
We all like to travel. But too often, we fall back on the tried-and-true—one friend can’t get enough of Hawaii, and another is addicted to Myrtle Beach. Those destinations are great, but you can get more bang for your travel buck if you decide to visit someplace new in 2014 and make a plan to learn about it. If you’re planning a trip to India (or Atlanta, for that matter), search online or get recommendations for friends about the best books to read. We're not talking travel guides here; instead, seek out fiction that illuminates the place you’re visiting (in the case of India, you could try something by Arundhati Roy) or sociopolitical works (like Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo or India Calling by Anand Giridharadas). Read them to prepare for your trip, and the experience will take on a whole new meaning.
4. Learn Through Documentary Films
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions (besides losing weight) is to learn something new. Maybe you want to tackle Spanish, or acoustic guitar, or chess. But those ambitious goals are often quickly foiled when you can't find a good teacher or book to help you. If you really want to learn something new this year, do it recreationally via watching documentary films. You may come home too exhausted at night to crack open your Spanish grammar book, but odds are, you’ve still got enough energy left to watch television. So make it count: Choose a great documentary series about jazz music or the history of Scotland or the National Park System, and in a few weeks, you’ll be a more informed person by osmosis.
To get different results, you have to do different things. If you really want to make 2014 your best year yet, make a concerted effort to reinvent yourself. In the process, you’ll meet more people, visit interesting places and become a new and better person.
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her new book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press), and follow her on Twitter.
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