In the last two years, I have attended two conference that changed the course of my life. Seriously.
I went to NMXLive in 2014. It is now defunct, but was awesome the year I attended. It was a conference for bloggers and podcasters. I was on the verge of launching my first podcast at the time, UnStuckable. I was able to meet loads of people who taught me almost everything I needed to know to get my podcast off the ground in a matter of days.
I attended the World Domination Summit in 2014 and 2015. I like to think of this event as summer camp for adults who are interested in “living unconventionally.” It’s hard to describe, but was a very empowering experience to start living on your terms. For me it validated that it’s possible to truly design your ideal lifestyle and to work on your terms.
Previously I had attended countless professional conferences that had little impact on my life. In fact, they drained me. I wasn’t myself and can’t stand networking.
Let me tell you there is a HUGE difference between attending a conference you have to go to for your job versus a conference you want to go to just because you find it interesting.
One of the first steps to get unstuck in your career is to change something in your life. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, something small will do like attending a conference. It can seriously change your life!
Top 3 actions you can take to get unstuck:
1) Learn something new.
2) Meet people who are doing what you want to do.
3) Get out of your usual environment.
Each of the above actions share a common result: they get you to challenge and change your perspective(s).
Attending a conference can do all of that for you in one fell swoop!
By attending a conference you will:
1) Attend lots of sessions and workshops, so you’ll learn something new.
2) Socialize during activities, dinner, drinks and session breaks, so you’ll meet new people.
3) Many times you’ll have to leave your state, city or at least your house to attended, so you’ll change your normal environment.
Most importantly, attending a conference gives you space and time to consider new thoughts and ideas outside of your normal routine, influences and thought process. That’s a very powerful opportunity if you are looking for change in your life.
Conferences also help you get unstuck by:
1) Validating your vision for your life and work by meeting awesome people who are successful doing what you want to do.
2) Providing a supportive environment of deeply experienced people to productively challenge everything holding you back.
3) Giving you the basic ingredients for an action plan to get your started on transforming your lifestyle when you get home.
Attending a conference gives you the opportunity to “try on” your new identity far from the reach of critical voices in your life. You get to be who you want to be and are encouraged to do so.
Conferences also redirect your energy and thoughts from why you want to change toward how you can begin to change.
Best practices for attending a conference
Attending a conference for yourself is a little different than attending one for your job, so it needs to be approached differently. Here’s some of my advice for getting the most from a “life-changing” conference:
1) Make an investment in yourself.
I’ll be honest, you’ll probably need to take a few days off to attended a conference. Lots of us take vacations to get away from it all, but then we have to go back to everything that is stressing us out.
Conferences enable you to get away from it all too, but have the potential to transformation your life on your terms.
In terms of cost, you might be looking at spending no more than $1,000. In many cases it will be much less. It depends on your budget and how frugal you are. There are lots of variables involved like the conference ticket, transportation, accommodations, meals, etc.
If you want to commit to lifestyle design transformation, find a way to make this investment in yourself.
2) Have a goal.
What do you want to get from this experience? What will make your investment of time and money worthwhile? Your goal might be to:
- meet one of your heroes
- meet a certain number of people you really connect with
- do something you’ve been afraid to do in your life back home
- learn something you’ve always wanted to learn
- reflect for 30 minutes each day about the change you want to make
3) Build relationships.
Don’t just make lots of “contacts” like you would normally do at a conference.
It’s so important to build on the momentum of your conference experience when you get back home. The most effective way of doing that is by keeping in touch with a handful of people you met at the conference. They are your people and they get you.
When I left the World Domination Summit the first time, I was part of a monthly conference call on Skype with two other guys I met there: Zach Sexton of Asian Efficiency and Thomas Frank of College Info Geek.
We kept it up for a year and then invited another guy to our group, Stefano Ganddini of Collegetopia to start a “mastermind” (or Jedi Council as Thomas likes to call it) to hold each other more accountable about our progress that continues to this day.
4) Ask lots of questions.
You can learn so much about the work you want to do more quickly at a conference than by performing Google searches during the same amount of time (your eyeballs will hurt less too!)
You will be surrounded by people with varying levels of experience that can help you avoid some of the mistakes they made and get you on the right track more quickly. Ask about:
- books to read
- blogs to follow
- podcasts to listen to
- other conferences to attend
- tools of the trade
- your most pressing concerns that are holding you back
- people you should meet
I’m including this recommendation for the introverts. Challenge yourself to attend a few more social events than you normally would.
This is the time when people loosen up and really open up themselves. They are more approachable. The conversations are so much more honest and genuine.
My most valued “connections” from these types of conference have always come out of social situations.
6) Create an action plan.
On your last day or when you are on the plane heading home, scratch out a quick plan and organize your thoughts to capture your most valuable information. Your plan might include:
- 3 most valuable takeaways from conference
- 3 things you learned to help you begin your lifestyle transformation
- 3 people you want to keep in touch with (email them when you get home to set up a call)
- 3 key actions you are going to take to start transforming your lifestyle and your work
Attending a conference gets you to commit because you are dedicating time and money to make this change in your life most likely for the first time.
They rip you out of your current lifestyle to hang with people who are doing what you want to do.
They break you out of your routines and habits.
They challenge your perspectives and assumptions.
They provide support to empower you to see the change you want to make in your life is indeed possible.
Now go an search for a few conferences about stuff you want to learn about or people you want to hang with to start building your community!
Just type in “conference for [insert subject or profession]” into Google now!
Chang your life by attending a conference!