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Taking Growth Into Your Own Hands

We all get the emails – mid-year check-in, annual reviews. These performance reviews are designed to help us continuously grow and develop throughout our career. Your manager and/or mentor can provide you with the support to grow and evolve – but there’s only one person who owns your growth and how you invest in yourself.

Your personal development is your responsibility – and it comes with a host of benefits, including personal satisfaction, increased career opportunities, improved brain health, and the joy of continuous learning and mastering something new.

What does owning your growth mean?

Personal growth and development means developing a vivid vision of what you want your life and career to become and establishing goals and a plan to achieve that vision. And taking the personal responsibility and accountability to commit to achieving that vision.

An important component of owning your growth is feedback. Along your path, are you asking for feedback? A helpful 3-question framework is:

  • What am I doing well?
  • What do I need to do more of?
  • What do I need to do less or stop altogether?

It’s so easy to get off-track on our quest for personal development. Work, family, digital distractions, information overload, the feelings of failure/not progressing fast enough are demons lurking in the wings – waiting to derail us from our personal growth. This is why it’s so important that the drive for personal development comes from you – it has to be internally driven to stick. Develop a vision of your life that’s so compelling you can’t help but be pulled toward it.

Why invest in your personal growth?

What happens if you don’t invest in your personal and professional growth? One of the biggest risks is stagnation. Another is if you’re given feedback and don’t do anything about it.

A growth mindset coupled with personal development can lead to increased creativity, opportunities at work, problem solving, and even improved brain health. According to neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, learning new skills is one of the best ways to keep your brain sharp.

How do you invest in your personal growth?

There are many ways to learn – YouTube, classes, webinars, coaches, books. The options are nearly endless – but the key is to select what you want to learn, how you’re going to learn, how you’re going to immediately apply it – and make a commitment to yourself to see it through.

For example, if we think about learning a second language. There are so many things to learn – how do you learn without feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. We follow this framework and break down a big goal into manageable chunks:

  • Select what you want to learn: I’d like to learn Spanish and be proficient enough to have basic conversations.
  • How I’m going to learn: I’m going to take a weekly class, learn vocabulary with notecards for 15 minutes a day, and do Duolingo every day.
  • How I’m going to immediately apply it: I’m going to find a weekly Spanish meet up group, join it, and practice speaking.
  • Commitment: I commit to taking full ownership of this goal. I am responsible and will see it through.

A couple important notes include:

  • Make sure to give yourself permission to take the time. It can be so challenging with work, family, and life obligations to make the space for something that feels like an indulgence. But personal growth is not a treat – it’s vital to your life and career.
  • Turning your goals into daily habits is a great way to see success at something new. The book Atomic Habits is a great read on effective habit building. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld uses a calendar technique to keep his daily habits on track.
  • We don’t retain new information unless we apply it. Any time you learn something new you have to immediately apply it. The more you use your new knowledge the stronger those neural connections become.
  • There’s no one size fits all when it comes to personal development and/or learning. This is why it’s so important for you to own your growth.

Owning your personal growth

The feeling of mastering something new after a concerted effort is sublime – a potent combination of pride, accomplishment, and gratification. Leaving your personal development to only what is mandated by your manager robs you of the opportunity to feel this joy.

Give yourself permission to invest in yourself. To your success!