It’s almost 2018, which means most of the country is readying its New Years resolutions. What if you took an entirely different approach to yours next year?

Pay special attention to what Master Yoda says in Star Wars about the topic. When Luke Skywalker says moving a ship with the force is different than moving stones, this is how Yoda responded.

“No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.”

After the clock turned midnight on 2016 and we turned the calendar to 2017, a polling agency asked a large group what their New Years resolutions actually were. The most well represented was unsurprisingly to exercise more, but one caught my eye. Of the thousands of people surveyed, 15% said their New Years resolution was to learn something new.

Instead of committing to learning something new next year, what if you instead committed to unlearning something you already know? This is the topic I’m excited for you to explore in our December 2017 newsletter.

We go through four stages in life. The first is the learning zone, where we’re constantly looking to improve ourselves and better our career. When we’re in the learning zone, we’re in a state of eustress, which means we’re in the sweet spot between over-stressed and under-utilized. This is where we’re at our most efficient in terms of learning new things.

The next stage is the non-learning zone. This is where we develop callouses on what we allow ourselves to learn. This is the most dangerous zone, because we’ve already tasted success and seen how well our learning zone did for us. This tends to make us relax and think we’ve already arrived. In this stage, the mental muscles we used to learn in the first zone begin to atrophy from lack of use.

The third stage is the breaking down or breaking through zone. We can only go so far in the non-learning zone before we’re forced to make a decision. We can either break down, which in corporate terms leads to bankruptcy, or we can break through, which leads to new beginnings. The third stage is really the career pivot stage. We’ve slowly stopped our learning, and it’s here that you decide whether you want to push through or stagnate in place.

The fourth stage is the topic of our final newsletter of 2017 – unlearning. Your key to unlearning this month is identifying the leashes in the way of keeping you from doing something beneficial 100% of the time. Maybe you know you should read more books to become more proficient in your work, but you only sometimes do it. Or maybe you know you should break out of an old habit, but you only sometimes do it. This is where you need to unlearn those bad habits and get back to doing the things that benefit you 100% of the time.

This quote by Albert Einstein is a great way to frame the idea of unlearning: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Imagine you take a trip to England, and you rent a car to get around. The problem you’ll have isn’t learning how to drive a car. You already know where the pedals are, how the steering wheel works and how to read the speedometer. And you already know that traffic in England drives on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. But in order to get where you need to go, you need to unlearn how you drove back home. You need to forget the habits that used to serve you. It’s not about learning something new, it’s about unlearning something that no longer benefits you.

My challenge to you this month is to come up with a list of leashes you need to unlearn in 2018. What are the bad habits or chokeholds on your life that you need to unlearn to reach your goals next year? Write them out and spend some time strategizing how you’d like to break free of them. Do that, and I guarantee you’ll have a 2018 to remember.

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