Innate Ability is Not Enough

Katie Corbett holds the book "Peak, secrets from the new science of expertise"

By Katie Corbett

 

We grow up hearing we are good at some things and not good at others. We go through our lives and make decisions based on where we think our talents lie. It turns out that innate ability is not as much of a determining factor as you might think.

 

The book “Peak: Secrets From The New Science of Expertise,” by Robert Pool, says that deliberate practice is more important than raw talent. You might know what you want to work on. You might even know what skills you need to enhance in order to get good and achieve your goal. But how will you put the pedal to the metal and practice? Here are some ideas to practice your desired skills.

 

  1. Pick a time of day when you are most mentally alert. That will be your practice time. Block it off in your calendar. Let your family and friends know you are not going to be available. Turn off your Internet, power down your cell phone, and eliminate all other distractions.
  2. Decide what you want to master. Making this decision will help you realize exactly when you have achieved your goal.
  3. Pick the skill apart and determine its pieces. This will ensure you do one small part each day that will get you closer to accomplishing your goal.
  4. Practice those pieces until you master them. Even when you’re tired. Even when there are other, more fun things you could be doing. Just practice.
  5. Think of creative ways you can practice even when you are not practicing. Mentally rehearse dance moves while waiting in line, or go over foreign language phrases in your head while sitting at a stop light in traffic.
  6. Stick to a goal of practicing deliberately every day. Just do it!
  7. Tell others about your goal so you will be more likely to follow through. Trust me; it will be embarrassing otherwise.
  8. Set milestones so you can have smaller goals to aim to achieve. This will keep you motivated to reach toward those bigger goals.
  9. Keep track. I’m probably weird, but I love the satisfaction of checking items off on a to-do list.
  10. Celebrate when you hit each accomplishment. This is the most important step, so remember to celebrate every time.

 

By following this plan, you will get closer to achieving what you want in life. By celebrating your wins, no matter how small, you will recognize your success and progress.

 

What goals are you working on? Tell me in the comments.

 

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

Practicing Purposefully: Learning the Right Things

Katie Corbett holds the book "Peak, secrets from the new science of expertise"

By Katie Corbett

 

I was fascinated recently to learn that in language, we use the same 300 words every day. I have wanted to learn a new language for some time, but memorization and verb forms would get in my way of actually learning to speak the language.

 

I read “Peak: Secrets from The New Science of Expertise,” by Robert Pool, and learn that practicing purposefully could help me master a new language. I decided to check and see what courses are out there to help me excel.

 

My objective was to learn to speak confidently, so I looked for a course that focused on speaking the desired language. I found Pimsleur courses, which work by listening to MP3 files. These files contain prompts for repetition and responding to questions. I’ve been fascinated by The Philippines, so decided to take Filipino language lessons. These lessons have me spend 30 minutes each weekday learning those 300 words everyone uses in a conversational style. Here is what I’ve found when trying this method:

 

  • My brain stays focused, since I’m only needing to spend 30 minutes in deliberate practice.
  • I can do the lessons when and where I want, since I’m not part of a class.
  • I remember things more easily because I’m learning in a conversational style.
  • While the program I’m using cannot critique my pronunciation, I’m getting more comfortable with speaking.
  • I’m enjoying the practice, since there are no vocabulary lists or verb conjugations to memorize.

 

What is something you have wanted to learn? What are the basic building blocks to that skill? What could you do to acquire that skill more quickly than you might have thought possible?

 

I’d love to hear what you’re learning and how you’re finding success. Let me know in the comments.

 

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

The Importance of Persistence: Following Up

Katie Corbett holds the book "Girl, Stop Apologizing"

By Katie Corbett

 

Often times, I am mystified by how many people don’t do an activity that could further their careers and personal lives. That is following up.

 

I’m sure that when Rachel Hollis wrote about persistence in her book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” she meant something along the lines of not giving up and following your dreams. I have applied her advice to following up with contacts. Here are some tips I have found helpful to make sure I follow up with consistency:

 

  1. Get contact info: It’s easier to make a connection if I’m the one making the reconnection.
  2. Create a list of those with whom I want to connect: This way, I will remember to reach out initially or reconnect at a later time.
  3. Create a schedule: If a person says they would like me to follow up with them at a certain time, I can write that down on the schedule. That way, I’m following up at a time that is good for them.
  4. Take conversation notes: Each time I have conversations with a business contact, I make notes of what we talked about, what they do, who they’re looking to connect with and how we might work together.
  5. I always ask: When can I follow up? This way I’m following up without being annoying.
  6. Keep it simple: Following up can be as simple as asking how someone is doing, thanking them for taking the time to talk with me, or asking them about something the two of us discussed during the conversation.

 

In short, remember to follow up. You never know what might come your way through keeping in touch with someone with whom you recently crossed paths.

 

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

Choose One Dream and Go All In: My Freelance Writing Career

Katie Corbett holds the book "Girl, Stop Apologizing"

By Katie Corbett

 

I am a person with many hobbies, interests, and goals. I have gotten some advice that will help me propel my dreams forward: Focus. Focus on just one thing and move forward on that. I recently tried this focus when developing my freelance writing career, and it has proven to be invaluable.

 

In “Girl, Stop Apologizing”, author Rachel Hollis suggests to pick one dream and go all in. I have found this focus helpful because:

 

  • Focusing helps me evaluate other opportunities to make sure I stay on track.
  • Focusing helps me decide what needs to get done and stay on task.
  • I can say no to other opportunities without feeling guilty if they do not align with my current focus.
  • It is easy to see areas for growth and improvement when I’m only focused on one area of life.
  • I can track my progress more easily.

 

Tangible results of this focus include working with three amazing clients and getting paid for my writing expertise in less than three months of starting my business. And the best part about running a business is that I can focus on one business, but end up wearing all the hats. This means there’s always something fun and new to try, from writing, to interviewing, to marketing and sales.

 

What can you focus on, to the exclusion of all else? Are you writing a novel? Starting a business? Looking for a new job? Raising kids? How would focus benefit you in your endeavor?

 

I’d love to hear what you’re working on, so let me know in the comments. Where will you be investing your time and energy?

 

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

The Perfect Way to Make Time and Balance Energy for Everything

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Renaissance Soul"

By Katie Corbett

 

Having a weekly to-do list is a practice I have held for almost three years. It helps me get things done and remain productive, yet stay flexible and alert to fluctuations in my energy levels. Rather than writing in specific activities at specified times, I can follow my list and do things in the time blocks I set aside for to-do list items.

 

I was thrilled when I saw this practice suggested in the book, “The Renaissance Soul,” by Margaret Lobenstine. The author suggests setting aside blocks of time to do work on Focal Point activities and making a list of what needs to get done. Then, when it is time to work on Focal Point activities, you can choose what you want to do based on your time and energy.

 

Recently, I wanted to work on my business Focal Point. I only wanted to spend an hour-and-a-half working, and according to my weekly to-do list, I could either follow up on current projects, write a one-page brochure about my services, or schedule meetings with potential clients. I decided to focus on the latter because I wanted my brain to be in a more strategic space when writing the brochure and a happier space when doing follow-ups. I know, though, that because the brochure and the follow-ups are on this week’s to-do list, they will get done.

 

What will you be putting on your list for each of your Focal Points this week? When will your Focal Point activity time blocks occur? Let me know what you decide to do with your allotted time in the comments. I’d love to hear what you are working on.

 

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

How to Track your 12-Week Year Progress

Katie Corbett holds the book "The 12-Week Year"

By Katie Corbett

Tracking progress is important. If you don’t, it can be easy to get caught up with all the little items that need to get done and you could lose sight of the progress you made on accomplishing your big goals.

Tracking is an important aspect of “The 12-Week Year,” by Brian Moran. He says that you can consider your week a success if you complete 85% of the important tasks on your list.

I track my 12-Week Year projects at the end of each day by writing in a small notebook set aside specifically for that purpose. The way you track could look quite different. Here are some ideas:

• You could get a calendar and put stars on the days you accomplished your 12-Week Year goals.
• You could record notes about your progress on a spreadsheet.
• If you want a portable tracking option, you could make notes on your phone.
• You could create a paper chain with links for each day or week, and tear off a link right after you did your important actions for that day or week.
• You could set aside a certain amount of money, say, a dollar, each time you complete an important task on your list, then reward yourself with something special once the 12-Week Year is over. (If you set aside a dollar each day, you would have $84 at the end.)

No matter how you track, it is critical to remember to do it consistently. After all, if you skip a day or forget to mark your progress, you will have little perspective about whether you are truly meeting your goals.

Try one of these tracking ideas, or, if you’re feeling creative, come up with your own. If you find something that works for you, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave me a comment.

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

How Productive can you Be?

Katie Corbett holds the book "The 12-Week Year"

By Katie Corbett

If someone told me that a book could help me be more productive, get healthier in mind and body, and provide more overall satisfaction in life, I probably would have laughed. I’m glad no one told me that, because it has been so enjoyable going on the journey and discovering it for myself.

I started reading, “The 12-Week Year”, by Brian Moran, and it has changed my life. Here’s the basic principle behind the book:

Step 1: Decide what is important to work on in your life right now. It could be eating healthier, reading more, building a business, or focusing on your relationships.
Step 2: Pick the most impactful action step you can take to move yourself forward in that area of life.
Step 3: Do that action step every day for 12 weeks.
Step 4: Track your progress each day.
Step 5: At the end, take another week – called The 13th Week – to celebrate success and evaluate the impact on your life.

That’s it. I’m winding down my third 12-Week Year and the results of taking consistent action are incredible.

I started my first 12-Week Year in August of 2019. The most important goal in my life was to decrease stress. I decided I also wanted to become more well-rounded as a person, so doing one hobby each day seemed like a great way to accomplish both objectives. I did hobbies alone and with friends. I tried things I had never done before, as well as hobbies I used to enjoy, but had abandoned over time. It was so fun to give my brain a break and relax.

For my second 12-Week Year, I decided to focus on my reproductive health. I did an acupressure routine each day to get my hormones in better balance. It worked wonders.

The 12-Week Year I’m currently finishing involves my commitment to brush my teeth twice a day and floss once a day. I had fallen out of the practice for the past few years, only brushing once a day and flossing when I felt I really needed to. It feels great to get back on the band wagon.

I plan to continue brushing and flossing once this 12-Week Year has ended, I still do my acupressure each day, and I participate in a hobby occasionally. I’m not sure yet what I will do for my fourth 12-Week Year, but I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and give this productivity booster a try. I hope you are surprised and encouraged by the fruits of your efforts.

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.

Working Remotely: Secrets for Productivity and Success

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

Working remotely—usually from home—can seem like a glorious adventure. No commute, plenty of alone time, and the ability to work in your pajamas if you so choose. Thing is, if you’re not careful, it can be easy to get distracted by the dishes you need to do or the laundry piling up. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful to keep in mind whenever I work from home.

Listen and enjoy!

Why am I on the Payroll?: Thinking About Results

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

When evaluating your career, thinking about what you bring to each job you do is important. I find it necessary from time to time to ask myself some questions to keep the challenges of my job in perspective and contemplate the value I bring to my position.

Brian Tracy, author of “Eat that Frog”, says it can be helpful to start by asking yourself this question: Why am I on the payroll? I’ve added some other questions to create a list you might find helpful to ponder.

1. Why am I on the payroll?
2. In what ways does my role bring value to the company?
3. In what specific ways do I bring value to my position?
4. What unique skills do I bring?
5. What attitudes do I bring that contribute to my success?
6. Why did I choose this job in the first place?
7. Why do I think my employers chose me for this position?
8. How has the company improved since I’ve been there?
9. How has my department improved as a result of me working there?
10. What are the perks of my job and how is my value recognized?

Take a few minutes and jot down whatever comes to mind. You might gain a new appreciation for your current role.

And if you are unemployed or between jobs, think about your favorite job and answer these questions in regards to that position. It might provide insight for your job search, such as what to look for in your next job or what skills you can bring to a new company.

Want to get this info sent right to your in-box? Subscribe to my blog, so you’ll never miss a post.