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How to Create a Learning Plan (and Stay Sane Doing It)

        posted by , January 10, 2013

I'll admit it. I've been so focused on helping organizations bring Enterprise Architecture best practices to life that I haven't attended any training for over two years. Worse, I haven't been reading as much as I should.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
~ Mohandas Gandhi

So this week I decided to create a learning plan.

Learning plans are something I dreaded when I first began my career. I just wanted to sit at my desk programming mostly. I learned something new about programming and technology every day. I didn't see why I needed a learning plan. It looked like a pointless administrative task to me.

Years later, I'm completely independent. I'm running my own little consultancy. Nobody is forcing me to write a learning plan … and here I am.

I've come to believe that planning is important. Everyone needs to have aspirational targets. Even if you miss your targets (or if they change frequently) – you still need to have them.

And what's more important to plan than learning itself?

I've developed a 4-step training plan strategy ... actually I stole it from Aristotle. If you're looking for wisdom about learning — who else would you turn to?

1. Include daily activities in your plan.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

~ Aristotle
Include habitual activities in your learning plan such as reading, blogging, joining conversations in social media and online training.

2. Focus on learning general things over specifics

Excellence is an art.

~ Aristotle
Your time is better spent learning the art of things.

Learn architectural approaches over technical skills.

Learn business strategy over accounting rules.

We all need to learn specific things. Reserve your training plan for general things. They're more important.

Learn specific things as you need them.

3. Keep your learning plan aggressive and challenging.

You will never do anything in this world without courage.
~ Aristotle
A learning plan is no place to be conservative. It represents your professional aspirations.

4. Get out of your comfort zone.

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
~ Aristotle
Your learning plan can be bitter. Take training that makes you nervous if it will improve you.

If your fearful of speaking in front of an audience, consider public speaking training.

If you're a project manager who knows little about technology, stretch yourself with technical training.

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