//NOTE: The following is an excerpt from my book, Leadership Starts With You. Before diving into this post, I would encourage you to first read Two Perspectives You Must Have For Personal Growth (Part 1).
Personal growth doesn’t occur naturally. You must be intentional with it. You can leverage your experiences from the past, learning from mistakes and building on your successes. But looking back is only part of the process. A better way to measure and motivate personal growth is to plan for it. This is the planning ahead option.
Planning ahead is like the windshield. When you’re driving, you stare through the windshield while only glancing at the rear view mirror. You will only move forward in your personal growth to the extent you plan for it and implement that plan. Since you’re the one responsible for your growth, you need to create a plan and then follow it.
Do you have a growth plan? A growth plan is an intentional learning process that results in your personal growth. You make a promise to keep learning and then make a disciplined plan for it. The subject matter is up to you. The format is up to you. A growth plan ensures that learning and personal growth happens intentionally rather than incidentally.
If you need help getting started, here’s a rough outline for a growth plan using the letters P.L.A.N. You will need to fill in the specifics with what’s appropriate for you.
P urpose: What do you need to know? Why?
L earning: Where do you want to learn it from? Why?
A ssessment: How will you know you learned it?
N ext Action: What will you do with what you learned?
Let me explain each element a little more.
Purpose: What do you need to know and why do you need to know it?
There are all kinds of reasons and motivations for learning. At the start of creating your growth plan, identify what you need to learn and why you need to learn it. People don’t stop learning because they run out of things to learn. They stop learning because they lost their drive to learn – learning isn’t connected consequence. You’re responsible for your own growth. You will remain disciplined and committed if you know your reasons, as well as your resources throughout the learning process.
Learning: Where do you want to learn it from?
You can learn from books, the internet, other people, videos, podcasts, classes, or real life experience. It might be helpful to learn from a variety of sources. Create a schedule that designates consistent blocks of time for your learning (i.e., 30 minutes a day, one morning or lunch hour a week, etc). Write down what you plan to learn and how you plan to learn it during those times.
Assessment: How will you know you learned it?
The goal of your learning is personal growth. Assess your progress by the changes you see in your thinking and your actions. If you’re growing, it will become evident in your behavior. Are you able to incorporate your learning into your everyday life? Identify ways to capture your learning (in journals, file systems, online archiving) so you can access it easily when you need it.
Next Action: What will you do with what you learned?
Think about your purpose for learning. Your growth plan should include a strategy to use your learning in way that aligns with your purpose. Perhaps you will take what you are learning and teach it to someone else. Or maybe you will implement what you learned into your performance in school or on the job. Now that you’ve learned it, figure out how you’re going to use it.
One last thing. I believe the best tool for establishing your personal growth plan as a consistent discipline is your calendar. This is where you’ll manage your plan. Don’t make your growth plan a line item on your to-do list, make it an appointment you have each day.
Interested in discovering simple and practical ways to grow yourself as a leader? Download my latest book, Leadership Starts With You. This book will assist you in developing your own self-leadership skills. It’s available for both the Kindle and the Nook. Visit leadershipstartswithyou.com to take the next step in leading yourself well.