Professional development, like physical fitness and weight loss, is often discussed, frequently initiated and rarely completed as a New Year’s resolution. Make 2013 different.

Here are 7 ideas that like push-ups, build core strength, can be practiced anywhere and are absolutely free:

1. Listen more and talk less. This under-used sense is your best friend as a professional. Properly honed, your active listening conveys respect and helps you gain value from every interaction.

2. Ask more questions. If you must talk, instead of opining, show that you are curious and ask questions. And then listen.

3. Resist the rush to provide answers to “What do you want me to do?” questions from your team members. Learn to respond with “What do you think you/we should do?” Few questions are better instructors than this one.

4. Learn to graciously accept constructive feedback. Most of our time in leadership programs and books is spent on learning to give feedback. In my opinion, the true learning starts with you focusing on extracting your own developmental nuggets from every feedback opportunity.

5. Change your meeting habits. Kill excessive status meetings and end the “death by around the table” updates and you and your team members will be the beneficiaries of considerable found time.

6. Read more. With all of your new found time from successfully exorcising wasteful meetings in your life (#5), invest at least 15 minutes every single day in reading something that prompts ideas, challenges you to think and exposes you to others who have overcome great obstacles.

7. Interact more. Repair old relationships and build new ones.  Knock the rust off of dormant relationships, strive to repair broken and burnt bridges and reach out across your organization, industry and vocation to engage with and learn from more as many people as possible.

The Bottom-Line for Now

Start building muscle strength and memory with these portable professional exercises, and you’ll feel and see the difference in no time at all.

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