Do you have a personal plan for growth?

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On Twitter and Facebook on Sunday, I quoted my friend Paul Meyer, mentioning that he was the person who helped me create my first personal growth plan. In the hours afterward, I received dozens of requests, all asking the same thing: “How do you create a personal growth plan?”

The answer to that takes more than 140 characters, so I thought I’d post it here:

The key to a life of continual learning and improvement lies in developing a plan for growth and following through with it. Paul Meyer knew this. In fact, when I first met him and we had lunch, he asked me a question that changed my life: “Do you have a personal plan for growth?”

In answer, I told him about my work schedule and how much I did and how I was learning on the job.  I kept going on and on.  The more I talked, the more obvious it was that I had no plan.  Paul helped me find one.

Growth is does not happen by chance. If you want to be sure to grow, you need a plan—something strategic, specific, and scheduled.Motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said, “If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject.” Isn’t that incredible? It shows how far we are able to go when we have the discipline to make growth our daily practice.

So if you want to follow a plan, recommend that you start by identifying an area or two in which you desire to grow, such as leadership. Then start gathering useful resources – in print, online, on video, etc. Now your goal is to schedule learning time EVERY DAY. Here’s the rule of thumb I’ve used for years: read one book a month and digest one article/podcast per week.

As an example, this is the weekly schedule – 5 days a week, 1 hour a day – that I recommend for personal growth as a leader:

Monday: Spend one hour with a devotional to develop your spiritual life.

Tuesday: Spend one hour listening to a leadership recording.

Wednesday: Spend one hour filing* quotes and reflecting on the contents of Tuesday’s material.

Thursday: Spend one hour reading a book on leadership.

Friday: Spend half of the hour reading the book and the other half filing and reflecting.

The average American adult watches close to 30 hours of television per week, with little positive return. What do you think would happen if you devoted just five of those hours to personal growth?

Why not start acting on a plan today and find out? Then let me know if it was worth it.

*For my tips on how to collect and file material, read this post.

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