There is so much pressure to live your best life. There is a new formula every day for how you can 10x your efforts to strike while the iron is hot. With so much information coming at you as a professional it can be difficult to determine whether you are doing the right thing to propel your career forward. Moving forward isn’t the only measure of success. It is possible to be moving forward in an endless circle that goes nowhere.
Pursuing a growth mindset requires asking difficult questions of yourself.
How then do you ensure that your personal development and professional efforts are not being wasted? We share three keys to ensure that you are not misapplying your time. Professionals, leaders and managers can use these steps to help review whether your personal strategy is leading down the path of achievement.
Step 1: Measure your growth efforts correctly
Recognize that moving forward isn’t the only measure of progress. Like being lost in the woods, you can be walking with great effort and purpose and yet find that you have succeeded only in arriving at the spot from which you started. How terrible is it to realize you’ve spent all this time only to discover that you moved forward in a large and arduous circle. Your setback wasn’t for lack of effort, but for lack of skill and commitment to identifying a sound reference point. In business you need benchmarks that track your progress.
Stop running in every direction by developing a plan guided by vision.
- Where do I want to be?
- Who do I need to be to get there?
- What do I need to do in order to move myself in that direction?
In her book, Unqualified Success, Rachel Stewart reminds us that the key to success starts with understanding that, “The only qualification to get better: being willing to suck when you start.”
Step 2: Identify reference points for your growth progress
We recently trained the first adolescent driver in our family. One thing that we continued to stress, whether they were positioning themselves in their lane or preparing to reverse into a parking spot, was that you have to identify a reference point. If you are going to reach your goals you need a reference point to guide you. By locating reference points you can direct your steps towards your goal and track whether you are making progress.
Start to build accountability for yourself setting goals from your vision.
Move your vision into action by setting some goals. You can work forward from where you are or you can work backward from where you want to be. Often it is best to think of where you want to be in 5-10 years, what does that vision path look like?
In his book Traction, Gino Wickman, advises that once you know where you want to be in 10 years you can break your vision into action steps. Keep it simple but make it trackable. In Traction’s terminology, with a vision of your 10 year target, or Big Harry Audacious Goal (BHAG), you can create a three year picture from which you develop a one year plan from which you can break that into quarterly ROCKS.
Step 3: Move your growth onward and upward
Wherever you are on the ladder of success, most in a position of leadership would say that they have the will to succeed. What separates achievers from dreamers is the ability to develop a framework and follow through from a plan of action. Align your will to succeed with action based upon your reference point to ensure that you are moving in the right direction. Honesty with yourself is as essential as constructive input from trusted mentors.
Continue to check your progress and habits by asking, “Is this working?”
Just because you have a vision and have started making progress does not mean that you won’t miss a turn or get caught into another loop. The value of having a written plan is that you have something to measure your progress against. If you add some peers to your circle, or a mentor, you can benefit from independent insights and accountability. Your plan likely will change as you move forward. You must adapt as you learn new information from trying, failing and receiving feedback.
Growth requires will, skill and chill
Growth requires moving beyond your comfort zone. Progress demands the will, skill and chill in to reach your goals. You can say you have the will, but how consistently are you move in step with your vision. Skills can be learned when you maintain a hunger to improve. Chill is the learned ability to understand that you can survive this. The three combined allow you to push through obstacles, redirect your path and bring quality people to assist your efforts.
The will to succeed combined with the skill to accurately assess whether we are making headway can provide the chill to endure any obstacle.