Updated: Jun 27
Do you find motivation in personal growth? Are you constantly looking for way to continue to grow? I am that type of person, which means I am constantly looking for ways to learn and grow. Creating a personal growth plan has propel my personal growth and make me look at personal growth from a different perspective.
When I started my career I thought personal growth meant reaching a certain position or level in the organization by certain time frame or age. At that time when my career was starting, I grew accidentally, I didn't had a plan, I didn't even knew such thing existed. At that time I set a goal for myself: I wanted to become a manager by age 30, a director by age 35 and a vice president by age 40. I had these goals very clear my mind, what I didn't had as clear is how to get there. The only thing I had at that time was the theory I had learned at school, and to be honest, I thought that was the only thing I needed, so I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree. I thought that after completing my master’s degree I would be equip to be a good manager, but it didn't took long to realize that was a very narrow view on my side.
I got promoted to manager at age 24. Someone saw potential in me and decided to give me that opportunity, and I will always be grateful for that opportunity. It was in those couple of years after my promotion that I learned the most, and when I developed the first draft of my growth plan.
Before going into how to build a growth plan, I would like to share with you my key lessons learned around personal growth:
Having goals is very important, for many reasons. They provide direction, they have the power to motivate us and help us figure out a path forward to reach them. But when it comes to personal growth, limiting ourselves to achieving goals can result in hitting a plateau.
I also learned that the more you learn, the more you realize how much more you need to learn. Learning never ends.
Growth is not about getting to a certain level or position in a certain time frame but rather is about becoming the best version of yourself.
Maturity is a key component of growth and it only comes with time and being purposeful with experience. I want to make a distinction between two terms that many times are used as synonyms but in my mind they are very different, that is: seniority and experience. Seniority refers to the amount of time someone has been doing something or the time someone has been in a certain position or company. Experience, on the other hand, refers to the numbers of situations someone has been exposed to. Two people can have the same seniority in the same role in the same company and yet have completely different levels of experience. In my opinion there is a third level here, that is reflected experience. Experience by itself is not enough to help someone grow. You can be exposed to many different situations and experiences but if you are not reflecting on those experiences, they are not adding to your maturity and growth.
You grow the most when you step outside your comfort zone. As John Maxwell says "Everything worth pursuing is uphill" and growth is not an exception. Stepping outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable, but the amazing thing when you step outside your comfort zone is that you continuously expand it. What was uncomfortable, becomes comfortable; what once felt challenging is not as challenging anymore.
When I changed my perspective from chasing goals to one of constant growth, I became more humble, I realized I didn’t and certain don't know everything. I am more open for change, as I realized that growth requires change. I am more self-aware, more curious and open for feedback. I have become a better listener and I am more agile and able to learn, unlearn and relearn.
So, you might be wondering how did I went about creating a growth plan for myself and what can you do to build one of your own. Let's dig in into that!
Start by identifying your areas of personal growth. How? You can leverage feedback you have received before, think about what feels uncomfortable today or what do you admire in others. A great way to identify these area of growth is self-reflection.
Identify ways to step out of your comfort zone.
Consistently invest time in personal growth. I personally try to invest 30-60 minutes a day. I invite you to start with 15 minutes every day and expand that over time.
Identify resources to help you grow in the areas you have identified. We all learn in different ways, so I encourage you to identify the tools and resources that best fit your learning style. For me, some resources include: books, podcast, my mentors, the projects and tasks I have at work, YouTube, etc.
After you learn something, is critical that you apply it right away. I like to do this after attending a training or when reading personal development or business book, I like to split the book in sections, read a section and apply what I learned in that section before I move to the next section. Yes, it takes me longer to read a book, but I like to focus on quality and learning vs volume.
Self-reflection, self-reflection and more self-reflection. I am not sure how many times I have typed this word in this article, but that is just because I truly believe self-reflection is key for growth. I use self-reflection in different ways, one I just share, reflecting after reading and applying what I read. I also use self-reflection on a daily basis, after a meeting, at the end of a project or just at the end of my day.
Ask for feedback. I believe that we all have our best intention in everything we do but sometimes what we do can be perceived differently by others. We all have blind spots and we need to relay on other's perspectives to see the full picture. Feedback though needs to be paired with self-reflection and action, otherwise it has no value. If you are not willing to listen, accept, self-reflect and take action on the feedback you received, don't ask for it.
At the end of the day, I believe growth is a journey not a destination, so I see all these seven things as interconnected in a never ending cycle. If you apply these 7 things consistently, you will experience a kind of growth as you have not experience before.