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Deep Thoughts

How To Create A Better Personal Development Plan

You want to be the best version of yourself. You want to continuously develop and grow to reach your full potential. 

Making time for your personal development is key to becoming the best version of you (man that feels cheesy writing those words!).

It’s easy to say “I’ll get around to it later” or “I’m too busy right now” but those excuses don’t help you grow.

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Deep Thoughts Tools

3 Actions For Explosive Career Growth This Year

This time, I want to delve deeper into 3 actions each of us can experiment with for career growth over the next 360-something days.

You might be thinking, why only 3 actions? 

Simple. Many of us try to do too much. Going big or going home rarely works. Unless you want to invite burnout into your life.

Instead, you need to get specific.

The stereotypical lists of ‘20 things you want to change in x year’ are bad ideas.

I feel the anxious pressure in my muscles just thinking about trying that.

I’m not looking at 1000x growth here. I’m focusing on what you can do 10x better.

You gotta walk before you can run, after all.

I’ve spent the last two decades working with and researching high-performers.

Here are the 3 actions I notice 99% embrace.

Steal these 👇

1. Grow slowly to go far

This is a hard one for many to get their head around.

People want everything now. But, the overnight success story is BS.

The best of the best focus on decades not days. We often look at the end product, not the long journey that paved the way for the current success.

This gives the false illusion of doing big things at pace.

There are outliers to this, of course. But, for the most part, the optimal method is to build slowly.

Some have done well at pace. Whilst others have seen their empires crumble.

Often, we can attribute this to shaky foundations.

Speed can be great. 

But it needs strong foundations to scale properly. You can view your career in the same way.

You miss valuable learning opportunities if you move too fast through the ranks.

Those same lessons can be the very things that stop you from performing in a role down the line.

So, don’t be mad if your journey is not going at breakneck speed.

This is not bad.

Think in decades not years, weeks or days. 

Your chances of doing well in the infinite space are bigger if you tread slowly. 

Good things take time and to those who work their assess off.

2. We’re playing an infinite game. Don’t play by finite rules

I’m going to say it. 

You sabotage yourself with deluded expectations in finite timeframes.

If this sounds familiar, you’re using a finite strategy to play an infinite game.

Quick context. Finite = time-bound, Infinite = timeless.

We want too much too soon. Just as we discussed earlier, growth takes decades not days.

The infinite game is all about looking at the road 10, 15 or even 20 years ahead. The actions you take now are compounding towards that goal.

Sadly, too few think like this.

If they can’t get all the success, wealth and happiness in less than 6 months, they give up. 

This is a classic example of finite thinking in the infinite game. 

You can have all those things. Even more. Our time on this spinning rock is finite, but to reap the rewards is an infinite pursuit.

Instead, I encourage you to build micro-sprints across your time to reach your goals.

Think not just about short-term success, but long-term too.

More on setting micro-goals in next week’s edition  👀.

3. Small tweaks lead to big changes – keep compounding change

You see the big changes.

But, do you recognise all the little changes that got you there? Perhaps, not.

We all fall into this trap. Especially at this time of year.

We sit down (or you can stand, your choice) to write goals for the next year.

You get excited because you feel this time it’s different.

With pen in hand and inspiration flowing through your body, you ravish your notebook (or google doc) with the big changes you want to make in the next 12 months.

When you finish, you look down to review the words staring back at you.

This is the place where 99% of us already give up. This is why ⬇️

  • The changes are too big – you’ll need years not months to achieve them.
  • You have too many – you find 20 + staring back at you, when you really need the 3 most impactful.
  • You’re not specific enough. Broad statements lead to ineffective goals. You want to lose weight, great – but how much? By when? And how?

Thinking big is important.

It just needs the right structure to turn your aspirations into reality.

Try this instead:

Be brutal about what you can achieve in x months

Keep your big goals, but break them down into manageable chunks. 

As an example, let’s say you want to be a writer. 

This is great. But your starting point is most important here. If you’ve never written a thing before, saying I’m going to write once a day every day for 365 days is stupid.

A better approach is to say I will write something 2-3 times a week and learn how to build a system to scale my writing.

I did this myself. I didn’t start writing every day all of a sudden.

I spent years breaking down the process and putting infrastructure in place so I could do this long-term.

Unrealistic expectations lead to the death of too many goals.

Prioritise value and impact

What do you think is better?

20 goals that you half-ass across 2023 and feel meh about or 3 goals that you accelerate in??

I’m going to go with the latter.

Don’t worry, this is a classic goal-setting sin. You’re in good company too.

Society has drilled in the stupid slogan of “Go big or go home”. It doesn’t work – end of story. 

I’d prefer “Big things come from small moments of discipline” But that’s not very motivational, ya know!

The point is lack of prioritisation kills our performance.

We all try to do too much too soon and at the same time. The human condition you could say.

Bruce lee said “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” 

In other words, stop adding in filler and do the stuff that’s more killer (h/t to Sum 41 there).

Look at your goals with a clinical eye

Grab your pen (or mouse or trackpad or even phone screen) and rank your goals from first to last of importance in achieving your big changes.

Done that? Great. Now cross off anything outside the top 3.

I’m all for investing in the small thing to do the big things. But, we must invest in the right small things.

Get clear on the what and how

You already know the driving ‘why’ behind your own goals. 

We won’t cover that in any more detail. We need to get clear on what we need to do and how we will do it in our little equation.

Here’s an example:

I want to lose weight is a bad example.

Why?

It’s vague, too broad and has no specificity.

Now let’s put it through our ‘make it better machine’.

“I want to lose 20 pounds by the 29th of June 2023. I’m going to join my local gym, seek advice on the best weight loss protocols and apply these in my day to day”.

Let’s expand on why this is better…

  1. It’s specific: You’re clear on what you want to do and by when.
  2. It’s action-oriented: You define how you’re going to do all of this with clear action steps.

Ok, let’s wrap this up, shall we?

TL;DR:

  • For explosive growth double down on less, not more.
  • Grow slowly to go far.
  • We’re playing an infinite game. Don’t play by finite rules.
  • Small tweaks lead to big changes – keep compounding change.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can subscribe to my newsletter here or below.

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Categories
Daily Thoughts

An Unconventional Career Journey: From Failed Games Designer To Learning Specialist

Ok, recently I was asked a very poignant question which made me reflect and take stock of where I’ve come from and how the hell I ended up here as a passionate human focused on learning, growth and performance.

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Deep Thoughts

5 Free Tools Every Content Creator Needs To Know

As a creator of lots of different content across many channels. I have an endless bag of tools that I call upon to help get stuff done.

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Deep Thoughts

5 Easy Ways To Optimise Your CV To Beat 99% Of The Market

1/ Create a killer hook

The first thing you need to do when optimising your CV is to start with a bang.

This means writing a powerful opening statement that will grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. Think about what you want to achieve with your CV and what kind of impression you want to make on the reader.

Then, craft an opening statement that will help you achieve those goals.

What we want is less of this…

“I’m a hardworking, determined, trustworthy, resilient professional with 20 years of experience in xyz industry. I’m reliable, able to multitask and blah, blah, blah”

This is what 99% of people write.

Do you really think your reader wants to read the same thing they’ve read thousands of time? It’s not going to get their attention.

And, attention is what we want to grasp.

Here’s a better version…

“Hey, I’m Andres. I’m a high-performing software engineer with a journey of nearly 20 years working with some of the worlds leading technology brands.

I partner with teams to build world-class products in an ever-changing landscape. I’ve collected a bag of skills and experience that enable me to be a leader in my field and I’d love the opportunity to bring these to [insert company name].”

How does that flow?

It’s personable and different to the 99%. This is what we want.

2/ Focus on achievements and skills, not responsibilities

Too many people use the same structure of sharing a massive list of their current job responsibilities as the advertisement for a new role.

It’s basically just a copy-and-paste job from your current job description. Yet, this is a rubbish approach to advertise you and your skills. Employers don’t care if you were responsible for producing budget reports, but they do care about the level of your Excel skills to do this task.

I get this might sound counterintuitive to the ‘normal’ framework you know. But normal is not going to separate you from the 99%.

My recommendation here is to think about how you can move these typical responsibility sections from what to how. Which means not just talking about what you do but how you do it. We want to flip your narrative from tasks to wins.

Let your reader know the wins they can get if they choose you.

As an example…

Typical example = “I’m responsible for creating reports for our senior management team”

And when we put it through our “make it better’ machine…

“I use Tableau and Excel to build simple dashboards for our senior management team to understand our growth trends as an organisation and identify areas for improvement.”

Let’s talk about why this works.

This sentence provides 4 key points to the reader. A showcase of your skills, what you do, who for and the benefits you provide. And all in one sentence!

Here’s a visual example to demonstrate this.

“I use Tableau and Excel to build simple dashboards for our senior management team to understand our growth trends as an organisation and identify areas for improvement.”

3/ Use keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that are associated with the job you are applying for.

They play a crucial part in getting your profile noticed and keeping the reader’s attention. For example, if you are applying for a job in marketing, some relevant keywords might be ‘marketing strategy’, ‘brand awareness’, or ‘customer acquisition’. By including these keywords on your CV, you will increase the chances of your CV being found by recruiters who are searching for candidates with those specific skills and experience.

This works for both when recruiters, or perhaps AI recruiting tools, search databases and the text within your CV directly.

This is exactly the same as when you type a term into Google.

Your search query is used as a set of keywords to help identify the best content for your query. So, if you searched for “quickest ways to cook an egg”, Google recognises that you want to know how to cook an egg in the quickest way possible. This will return content that fits this specific intent.

We can apply the same principles to a CV.

If a role requires marketing expertise with SEO and content marketing, these are the keywords that need to feature across your CV. Now, don’t go crazy with this. You want to weave this in like a human, not a robot.

Keywords can enable optimisation that pushes your profile to the top of the pile.

4/ Tailor your CV

An often underused optimisation technique is to make small but powerful tweaks to your CV based on the role you’re applying for.

This is why having a few versions of your CV on file is beneficial. One you can use as the standard template to share on LinkedIn and open job boards, and others for those specific roles you directly apply to. You can’t use just one method and hope to get a win rate 100% of the time.

You want to optimise your CV so that it highlights the skills and experience that are most relevant to the role you are applying for.

This shows employers that you have taken the time to research their company and understand what they are looking for in a candidate. It also shows that you are serious about getting the job and willing to put in the extra effort required to stand out from other candidates.

This is how you stand out from the 99%. Design for your specific audience to get better results.

5/ Keep it concise, but useful

For today’s CV reviews, less is definitely more.

The attention of others is the biggest currency we are all trying to get more of. Our attention spans are so short these days that even goldfish might read your cv longer than a recruiter or AI tools. So, you need to keep your CV short, sweet and to the point.

No one needs to read an essay on each of your previous roles.

Typically, readers only spend a few seconds scanning each CV they receive, so it is important to make sure that yours is easy to read and digestible in a short amount of time.

Stick to two pages or less when possible, and use clear headings and bullet points with your keywords so they can quickly find the information they are looking for. You can list previous roles in a short list at the end of your CV with dates if you’d like. But drop the detailed content.

Time for you to optimise and beat the market

Ok, now it’s game time.

You’ve got this far so you must be serious. Now it’s time to put into practice what you’ve learnt here. Schedule time in the next week to review your CV with this insight and ask yourself “Can I optimise this for better results?”.

I hope these tips can help you land your next role and take control of your career.

All the best, folks.

If you want more insights like this, you might like these:

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can subscribe to my newsletter here or below.

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