Updated: Feb 11
Growth Doesn't Just Happen
"People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound." -- James Allen
Do you have a plan for your personal growth?
This can be a daunting question because, if truth be told, most people don't. Most of us just hope that if we work really hard at whatever we want, we'll eventually get it. How do you get better at what you do? How do you improve your relationships? How do you overcome obstacles? Work harder? Work longer? Wait for things to get better? But hard work isn't a guarantee of success. And as John Maxwell says, hope isn't a strategy. James Allen wrote in As a Man Thinketh, "People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they, therefore, remain bound." How do you need to grow to improve your circumstances? Stop pointing at everything around you as the problem and start looking at yourself. If you want something to change, what do you need to do to make it happen? "Hope isn't a strategy, so drop the "e" and hop to it." I'm not saying, and I'm pretty sure that Mr. Allen isn't either, that there aren't things outside your control, but no matter what is going on in your life, whether personal or professional, there is room for you to grow and take ownership of what is. If you simply focus on goals or what you want to change, you might hit the mark but there is no guarantee of that. If you focus on growing yourself, you will grow and you will achieve your goals and effect change as a result. However, there is a difference between accidental growth and intentional growth.
Plans to start tomorrow
Waits for growth to come
Learns only from mistakes
Depends on good luck
Quits early and often
Falls into bad habits
Plays it safe
Thinks like a victim
Relies on talent
Stops learning after graduation
Insists on starting today
Takes complete responsibility to grow
Often learns before mistakes happen
Relies on hard work
Perseveres long and hard
Fights for good habits
Thinks like a learner
Relies on character
Never stops growing
"The sooner you make the transition to becoming intentional about your personal growth, the better it will be for you, because growth compounds and accelerates if you remain intentional about it." -- John C. Maxwell
So how do you foster intentional growth in your life?
Step 1: Identify Your Growth Gap Traps
If you're like me -- and most people -- you have one or more mistaken beliefs about growth that are creating a gap between where you are and where you want to be. Look at the eight growth gap traps pictured below. Which of these have caused you to neglect growing the way you perhaps could have?
What strategies can you create and implement to help you bridge the gaps? Write a specific plan for each gap that applies to you and take the first step of that plan today because the longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.
Step 2: Ask the Big Question Now
Shift your thinking from "How long will this take?" to "How far can I go?" Growth happens in a lifetime, not a single moment. You may not be able to answer this question just now, but it will help you set the direction of your growth and imagine your best possible self (which will change as you do as well!)
John Maxwell writes, "The best you can hope to do in life is to make the most out of whatever you've been given. You do that by investing in yourself, making yourself the best you can be. The more you've got to work with, the greater your potential -- and the farther you should try to go."
Step 3: Do It Now
The greatest danger you face right now is the idea that you will make intentional growth a priority later. It's no surprise that we get easily distracted by everything little thing that comes our way. But what we give our time to indicates what we actually make a priority in our lives. Don't put growth on the back burner, doing so will only guarantee that you fall into that "accidental growth" category. Take a look at your calendar for 2023. How much time do you have specifically scheduled for personal growth? And because I can already guess the answer, I'm going to tell you right now to rework that calendar so you have an appointment with yourself to prioritize personal growth. And I'm not talking about once a month or even once a week. Remember, what we give our time to indicates what we make a priority. So set that appointment for every day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year. And maybe you're thinking that you don't HAVE time for that... and it's probably true. So the question becomes, what do you prioritize over your success? Because that's what growth equals. Growth is successfully reaching your goals, changing your habits, and transforming you into who you were created to be. Whatever it is that is pushing out that personal growth appointment, is it worth your dreams and reaching your full potential?