The one project missing from your strategic plan.

It’s a given for your business: you want next year to be different than this year. And so all kinds of projects and tasks end up on your to-do list. Marketing, office structures, product/offer creation, client care, technology.

Very important, this doing of things. Without action, very little manifests, no matter how clear your intentions are.

And yet, will next year look different? What’s more, you may find yourself spinning your wheels some, lackluster, running the gerbil wheel.

What gives? Is it too much action?

Not exactly. It’s just that something’s missing.

You need a learning project.

Every business is either developing, or dying. Now, ‘developing’ doesn’t always mean ‘growth’- but it does mean changing, living, becoming a new version of itself. Otherwise stagnancy sets in, after which comes dying, and death.

Want to avoid that kind of stagnant business death? Then, add a learning focus to your strategic planning.

A learning focus is when you identify some aspect of your business that you’re really curious about, and with which you want to have a healthier, more robust, more functional relationship.

Some examples of past learning projects at Heart of Business.

– Money. I declared one year to be the year I was going to learn about money. And that was my focus. The Heart of Money Transformational Journey was the course that was born from that.

– Systems and structures. Another year, I declared to be the year of learning about systems and structures. How do systems really work, and how can they be implemented to support the business, without dehumanizing it?

– The current focus. Teamwork and leadership. I had always struggled with incorporating assistants or collaborators with Heart of Business, Inc. This past year I declared that I wanted to learn about healthy teamwork and leadership.

Before action comes learning.

Without first taking the time to learn, it’s really hard to know what will be effective action. Kinda obvious, I know, but it’s really easy to slide over this and just want to jump in with both feet.

I’m a big fan of just jumping in. And yet, when the stakes are high, or when you care about something a lot, even just starting a learning project before jumping can save you a lot of grief afterwards.

So, how do you select a learning project? And, more importantly, what do you -do- with a learning project? Well, let me share what I’ve learned with you.

Keys to Learning Projects

* Many from one. One business. Many needs. What are all the things you are striving to do in the business? Make a list? What are all the areas in your business where you are struggling? Make a list.

Here are some ideas to spark your brainstorm: money, accounting, delegation, systems, marketing, sales, technology, writing, websites, blogging, dealing with upset customers, leading teleclasses, product creation, strategic planning, setting goals…

Any other areas of business you’re struggling with? Take a few minutes and jot them down onto the list.

* One from the many.

There may be a lot of things that your business needs, but just pick one. And make it your intention and focus over the course of the year to get comfortable and familiar with it. To learn about it.

* Now, learn!

With a learning project or focus, you don’t set outcome-based goals for yourself. There isn’t a big to-do list, or that many measurable results that you set. It’s about setting an intention and learning.

First, set the intention to have beginner’s mind, and to take the pressure of creating specific results off yourself.

Second, canvas your resources. Make a list of books to read, websites or blogs to connect with, people to interview or otherwise. Start with one book, and making a lunch or tea date with one person.

Third, once you’ve gained some familiarity with it, I would suggest even looking for a class to take, some place where you can be guided to integrate your self-learning.

Slow down on some of your to-do’s, and add a ‘to-learn’ project to your list for the year. And don’t be surprised if at the end of the year you’ve accomplished some very concrete outcomes, even without planning for them.

You’ll find that instead of recycling the same problem over and over again, the next will find you and your business in new territory in a very satisfying way.