Every six months my grandmother would call my brother and me into her room and with our backs to the wall, mark our height with a pencil. Next to each mark she would write our initials, date and height. This was a very visual way of measuring our growth relative to where we stood 6 months earlier. This was natural growth and there wasn’t much we could do about it, one way or the other.
Physical growth is easy to measure: as my boys played high school sports they were always talking about how tall they were, how much weight they had gained and how many pounds they could bench-press. Their simple goal: increase the numbers. Unfortunately their gene pool didn’t allow them to grow over 6 foot in height. On the other hand, gaining body mass or lifting more weight in the gym was something that they had an influence over.
Personal and professional growth is a bit more difficult to achieve and measure. Are you growing? How do you know? And if you think you are, how are you measuring your progress?
Last week I attended a very good workshop called “How to Have Your Best Year Ever” offered by Sandler Sales Training. In my notes I jotted down that only 5% of the population set annual goals and that 82.7% of our self-talk is negative. I also wrote down the question: “Is your future bigger than your past or is your past bigger than your future?”
If you want to continue to grow, you need to set goals and track how you are doing against those goals. Here are a couple of tips that might help:
· Your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based.
· Your goals should stretch you and get you out of your comfort zone. Without stretching there is no growth.
· Your goals should be written in the positive and as if they have already happened: In 12 months I will have sold $100,000 worth of widgets.
If you work for a company chances are you will have a goal setting process and part of your income will be determined on your goal achievement. When I worked in corporate America a large part of my January was spent grading goals of senior executives to determine what their bonus payout would be.
Whether you are an employee or you own your own company, the business (or your boss) will determine what your 12-month goals are. This is understandable and you might experience personal or professional growth during this process, especially if you are doing a new job.
The key take away from the goal workshop for me was to step away from your day-to-day business goals and focus on four high-level goals that will have a big impact on your life. These goals fall into the following four buckets:
· Social / Family
Look back over the last 12 months and ask yourself: Have I grown in these four areas? Did I have any goals and if so, did I achieve them? Let me give some examples of what kind of goals might fall under each of these areas.
Spiritual: I don’t know where you are on your spiritual walk but I think we all need to take our focus off of ourselves and focus on a higher power. For me it is having my focus on Jesus Christ. For you it might be Buddha, Muhammad or Mother Earth. How are you connecting daily to this higher power? Do you have a goal that will help you grow over the next 12 months, and are you able to measure it? How will you hold yourself accountable?
Last year I took on the personal goal of journaling every day and in my journal I write down three things that I am thankful for that day. It can be very simple things: a hot shower, clean drinking water, a good meal. Or things that might have more personal meaning: boys finishing their first college semester and passing all of their classes; a friend or family member who’s health had improved; winning a new client.
My day starts out with prayer, journaling and reading in the bible. It’s not always easy to stick to this routine and sometimes I really don’t want to. There are a thousand things that are pulling me away from my daily quiet time but I’m good 90% of the time. I think this goal, this daily routine, has helped me grow tremendously over the past year.
Health: A lot of people I know set a new year’s resolution that they will lose weight by joining a health club. But most of the time they don’t set a goal of what they wish to accomplish over the next 12 months. The weeks pass and so does their enthusiasm to visit the gym.
Last year I had a thyroid problem and the doctor said that he might need to put me on medication. I didn’t like hearing that so I thought I’d try to address the problem with the right diet. After doing some research I started on an autoimmune diet: gluten free, no dairy and no sugar. My goal was to stick to the diet for 12 months and see if my thyroid condition improved. The diet wasn’t easy and took a lot of discipline. The results were outstanding: I lost 30 pounds and the doctor told me that medication wasn’t necessary!
Social / Family: This goal can vary greatly depending on what your situation is and what you’d like to accomplish. For the one it might be spending less time on Facebook and Instagram; for the other it would be to spending less time at work and more time with your family.
In August we became empty nesters as our twin boys moved off to college. I had been promising my wife that we would take a nice Caribbean vacation once they were out of the house and we achieved this in October. For the coming year I plan to have a couple more trips, weekends away and date nights with my spouse. I’ve got to make the effort and put things on my calendar, book rooms and restaurants and buy concert tickets. If I’m not proactive these things will never happen. I guess I should also discuss this with her to see what she’d like to do!
Career: This goal should be less about money or title and more about:
· Passion: What do you love to do?
· Values: What is important to you?
· Talent: What are your good at doing?
· Destiny: What were you born to do?
Back in 2005 I started to think about what life might look like if I left the corporate world. I knew what I loved to do (executive coaching) but I wasn’t sure how to make a living doing this. What followed was a process to prepare myself for realizing my dream: getting the right training and certifications; making sure my finances were in order to weather possible storms; setting up an LLC; creating a website; learning how to market myself, and the list goes on. Most days are good; some days aren’t. The main thing is you can’t give up; you’ve got to keep pressing forward.
Finally, I’ve learned that you can’t grow on your own. You need to involve other people in your growth process: a good friend or friends that can hold you accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself. A group of friends or colleagues who can give you wise council or tough feedback. A band of brothers (or sisters) who can surround you in love and comfort you when you’ve had a setback or are experiencing a crisis.
May you experience great personal and professional growth in 2019!