Unless you're a formal student enrolled in an academic program with a proscribed curriculum, chances are you don't have an intentional “learning framework.” Most of us regularly glean new insights and skills along the way: at work; from family and friends; via Internet sites, television programming, books and magazines, and through traveling. We might love to learn, but not necessarily have a “strategy” for our learning. Sometimes we're learning a great deal, but other times we're stagnant–and perhaps not aware that we're stagnant.

For the past couple of months I've been tweaking a “learning plan” that helps me stay on top of the key areas and disciplines in which I want to keep growing. I began by considering the four “spheres of engagement” through which I've come to address life as holistically as possible: the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Then, I brainstormed key categories in each of those spheres that were important to me; for example, “health and fitness” under physical engagement and “appreciating myths and religions” under spiritual engagement. I also adjusted my blogging categories so they incorporated most of my learning topics, and ensured that the core types of clients I serve were well-represented in my learning efforts; for example, I read regularly on the wireless, health care and higher education industries and absorb business news and trends in general.

All of these spheres and sub-categories are bookmarked on my web browser, and have their own clusters of notes in the extremely-helpful Evernote tool. I also organize my Kindle books along this same framework, and am updating my book Assess, Collaborate, Execute with chapters that mirror these topics as well. Furthermore, I've created a daily calendar hit called “Learning” that not only marks off time for intentional studying but specifies which topics I'll attempt to learn about on specific days. Calendars are fluid and on some days the intended learning shifts, but this cadence helps ensure that I cover the learning basis across any given week.

Learning is never finished–and neither is a learning plan! There's a delicate balance between creativity and rigidity required for creating and implementing such a framework, which is the case for any kind of “plan” that anyone might draft for any specific purpose.

However, I am noticing more depth and breadth in my efforts to stay ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities. I recommend that you experiment with a plan of your own and find what works for you.