I attended a business conference earlier this month, and I had to drag myself there, kicking and screaming. Why? Oh, I was busy…I had too much work to do…I had family members who needed me… The excuses went on. Luckily, I hate to waste money, and I knew this about myself when I committed and paid for the conference 6 months ago.

So I had to go…and I’m glad I did.

Here are a few things I learned (or re-learned) that I hope to remember throughout the year:

1) Get outta your comfort zone. Find a way to get out of your comfort zone more often. Go to a conference, speaker event or something that puts you in a different setting and focused on you and/or your business at least once per year (ideally, once per quarter). It forces you to step back, look at things from a different angle, learn new information and approaches, meet new people and grow. For me, if I haven’t done anything dynamic in a long time, I begin to forget that I can. Shaking myself up and forcing myself out of my comfort zone always propels me and my business forward!

2) Take stock of your WHY. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of our business. We can lose touch with why we started our business in the first place, what we love to do the most and who we love to work with the most. Give yourself time — away from your desk, phone and computer — to re-examine your “why” from time-to-time.

3) Work on yourself first. Oftentimes, it isn’t a lack of skills, knowledge, experience or exposure that is holding us back in our business — it’s us. We can get in our own way and don’t even realize it. So when you want to work on and grow your business, look at yourself first. Are there places where fear is holding you back? Where you aren’t dreaming big enough? Where you need to make an adjustment? Where you can outsource some of the busy-ness off your plate so you have more time to lead, invent, strategize, develop, sell or expand?

4) Don’t sit with the same people. Even though I’m an extravert, I can also be shy sometimes. At a conference, I’m much more comfortable finding one or two people to sit, talk, laugh and compare notes with the entire time. I have several good friends across North America I have made this way. But at this most recent conference, while I did hit it off particularly well with a few women I now call friends, I forced myself to sit next to new people at almost every session and meal. The result? I met a LOT more people and learned much more this way. Beyond the conference and in a broader context, this can be applied to any kind of networking or socializing I do.

5) Follow up…and do it early. When I make new connections, the sooner I follow up and follow through, the better. It’s easy to get caught back up in work, life and my normal routine. The sooner I follow up (or make a plan to do so), the more likely I won’t end up putting this important step off.

6) Take action. It’s great to get fired up, motivated and inspired. But it’s mostly a waste if you don’t translate all of that into ACTION. Make an action item list for yourself (or at least start it) before you even leave the conference or event. Is there an action you can take immediately? I have 10 on my list, and I have already been able to check off several of them!