One of the biggest differences between successful and unsuccessful people is how they think. Specifically, how they think about, and value, personal growth. But even successful people often times struggle with creating effective, high-value personal growth plans. What I’ve discovered in all my years working in personal growth, both personally and with my clients, is that using the correct strategy is key to getting the most from your investment of time and money.

Before I get to those strategies though, I need to ask a simple, but vitally important question. How much have you budgeted for your personal growth over the next 12 months? In other words, how much money and time have you set aside to invest in growing and getting better at what you do? Because if you don’t intentionally budget both time and money, it rarely happens. As Michael Hyatt loves to say, “What gets scheduled, gets done.” And related to personal growth, “What gets budgeted, gets invested.”

Personal growth doesn’t happen by accident. And if we don’t intentionally set aside the time and money, life will fill in and the investment in growth will never happen. And as those of you who know me understand, experience isn’t a dependable or efficient plan for growth. Or, as John Maxwell says, “People say ‘with age comes wisdom’. But, I’ve often seen age come alone.”

So How Much Should You Budget?

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, says 10%. That is ten percent of your time and ten percent of your gross income. And he should know. His market is some of the most successful leaders and business people on the planet. While he admits, ten percent might seem hard when you’re making $30,000 or $40,000. But, he says to think about how hard it will be when you’re making $2 million a year. That means you need to effectively invest $200,000 a year in personal growth! Yet, if you don’t invest 10% at $40,000 a year, you’ll never get to make $150,000 so that you can invest $15,000 in personal growth…so you can become the person who earns $2 million a year!

With that covered, let’s get to the strategies.

Strategy #1: Grow Your Strengths

The #1 driver of high-performance is leveraging our strengths in our work. In the 80/20 Rule that says ‘80% of our results are produced from 20% of our efforts’ – the 20% is fueled by our strengths. Therefore, growing and extending our strengths is the key area to focus on first. It will have the most immediate impact, as well as, the largest impact.

We also grow more and more easily in our areas of strength. Why? Because we naturally have an affinity in that area, and we enjoy working and growing in our area of strength. We feel better and perform better. It’s natural!

So, work to add more valuable knowledge and skills in your area of natural strength. Then work hard to position yourself so you can leverage those strengths as often as possible. Remember, there isn’t an upper limit on your strengths. (To find out more about how to identify your strengths, check out this article.

And while there isn’t an upper limit on our strengths, there is one caution here. We need to use discernment in continuing to grow and extend our strengths (or any other ability). Have discernment around moving past the point of ‘diminishing returns.’ That’s the point beyond which the growth isn’t noticed by your customer or client. An actuary friend of mine – yes, actuaries have friends too – gave a classic definition of actuaries: “We provide more and more precise answers to less and less relevant questions.” Don’t go there. Discernment is required because in some areas the more extreme your strength, the more valuable it is; while in other strength areas, excess isn’t always worth it. You get the point.

Strategy #2: Develop Foundational Skill(s)

This is a ‘rising tides raises all boats’ type of strategy. The strategy here is to develop a single skill or capability that helps you improve in a wide variety of situations and conditions. With this strategy, you focus on a skillset such as leadership, influence, building relationships, connecting with people, communication, networking, etc. Developing this skillset can help you in every situation, personal and professional, therefore, investing time and money here helps all aspects of your life.

Using this approach gives a high return on your investment, due simply to its broad application in your life. In so many ways, you’re simply becoming a more valuable and better person than you already are.

Okay, so that was short and sweet.

Strategy #3: Number 1 Goal…Number 1 Skill

This strategy is again brought to us by Darren Hardy. It’s based on focus rather than the general nature of strategy #2. The core of this approach is to identify your most important goal, and the most important skill in achieving that goal. His famous (well, to me anyway) “1-1-5-3-1-30-30-5 plan”, says…

  • Pick your #1 goal, then
  • Identify the most important (#1) skill to achieving that goal. Now,
  • Buy 5 books, 3 audio training courses, and attend 1 seminar/webinar, all around that skill.
  • Spend 30 minutes reading, and 30 minutes listening, each
  • The “5” represents the 5 steps of:
    1. Study – read/listen/participate in those resources
    2. Extract – pick (only) the 3 most important lessons from each of those resources
    3. Act – apply your new learning
    4. Measure – determine what worked and what didn’t
    5. Improve – make adjustment(s) and try again

So here Darren is saying to learn the specific skills most important to your most important goal. (Note that his approach for developing that skill can also be applied to developing the more general skill in Strategy #2.) And, of course, it doesn’t have to be precisely 5, 3 and 1 types of sources. Just use the principle of getting information from a number of sources, and through the mediums that work best for you.

Wrap-up & Next Steps:

So there you have it, the 3 most powerful strategies for personal growth. To get the most from your personal development investment (and I hope you will now have a pre-determined budget for it), decide which one of these strategies will work best for your current situation. Then take action.

The biggest challenge for most is making the investment prior to seeing the benefit which is understandable because we never know what we miss out on when we don’t grow. If we could see what we’re missing out on, I think we all would make the investment in ourselves…and in what’s possible.

John Maxwell has said one of the most important days in his life was back in 1974 when his thinking regarding personal growth changed from ‘How much does it cost, and how long will it take?’ to ‘How far can I go?’ He said it absolutely transformed his growth…and his life. And he has ‘gone’ pretty far!

 

How far can you go?