Time is a limited resource that you cannot acquire more of, make sure you use it wisely as you grow your career.
There is so much pressure to live your best life, 10x your efforts and strike while the iron is hot. With so much information coming at us as professionals it can be difficult to determine whether we are doing the right thing to propel our 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.
Asking the right questions for growth
How then do we ensure that our personal development and professional efforts are not being wasted? We share three keys to ensure that you are not wasting your time. Professionals, leaders, and managers can share these steps to help review whether our will to succeed 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, we can be walking with great effort and purpose and yet find that we have succeeded only in arriving at the spot from which we started. How terrible is it to realize we’ve spent all this time only to discover that we moved forward in a large and arduous circle. Our setback wasn’t for lack of effort, but for lack of skill and commitment to identifying a reference point. In business, we need benchmarks that track our progress.
Start this directed effort by answering, what is my 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 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, and successfully, trained our first adolescent driver in our immediate family. The 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 we are going to reach our goals we need a reference point guide us. By locating reference points we can direct our steps towards our goal and track whether we are making progress.
Put some teeth to your vision by answering, what are my goals?
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 10 years, what does that vision 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 you can create a three-year picture from which you develop a one year plan which you can break into quarterly Rocks.
Step 3: Move your growth onward and upward
Wherever you are on the leadership ladder, 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 a direction based on your reference point to ensure you are moving in the right direction. Honesty with one’s self is as essential as constructive input from trusted mentors.
Continue to adapt by asking is this working?
Just because you have a vision and have started making progress does not mean that you can 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 bring insights and accountability. Your plan likely will change as you move forward, you adapt as you learn new information from trying, failing and receiving feedback.
Growth requires will, skill and chill
Growth requires moving beyond one’s comfort zone and progress requires will, skill and chill in to reach one’s goals. We can say we have the will, but how consistently are we moving in step with our vision. Skills can be learned and life is a continual effort to improve. Chill is the learned ability to understand that we can survive this. The three combined allow us to push through obstacles, redirect our path and bring quality people to assist our 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.