Our world is increasingly fast paced and sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with all the changes. Unfortunately, if you are not continuing to grow and learn new ideas and skills, you are becoming irrelevant. Nothing stands still. Change is everywhere and increasing.

How do you fit growth into your busy life?

It starts with the recognition that it is important. If you want to be successful, you need to grow. Many people are unconsciously incompetent – they don’t know what they don’t know and get stuck in a rut until new ideas are introduced into their lives by outside events or people. No growth is occurring and so they stagnate in their health, relationships, careers, or finances. If they become aware of this deficit, they become consciously incompetent – they know that they need to know and what it is they need to know.

You need to understand that growth is a process. One-time events such as a seminar are great motivators and catalysts to begin change, but growth itself is a process. It takes time and it needs to be undertaken on a regular basis to really integrate it into your life.

As you move forward in your growth process, and gain new ideas, knowledge, skills and habits, you become consciously competent. You grow, and the results start to show, such as becoming leaner, fitter, getting your finances under control or getting a promotion. Finally, you reach the state of mastery, the unconscious competence, where the new thoughts and skills have become second nature and can be accomplished without active, conscious thought.

You need a plan for your growth. It doesn’t just happen by accident, or because you got older. You need to be intentional about deciding what areas you need to grow in; and the steps you need to take to reach your goals.

The secret to success is in your daily agenda.

Successful people calendar everything. They start with the things that are most important to them, the big rocks such as family time, date nights and vacations. Next they block out the time they need for their most important projects. They break down the steps needed to complete the project, and they calendar those steps too. Then they fill in the remaining time with the other activities that need to be accomplished. Some people find it helpful to block certain days for certain types of activities so that they can focus, and are not constantly jumping between unrelated activities.

Set a reminder. It’s easy to set activities up on your calendar and then never look at it. Set a reminder on your calendar or phone to alert you when it is time for each activity so that it gets done.

What are you doing every day to improve yourself?

What books are you reading? What seminars are you attending? What sacrifices are you making in time, money, security, and comfort to develop yourself?

  • Maybe you need to sacrifice your time on Facebook or reality TV in order to free up time to take a class or read a non-fiction book.
  • Maybe you need to invest in yourself and your growth by joining a class, a mastermind group or by getting coaching to improve your skills, thoughts or knowledge.
  • Maybe you need to sacrifice your daily Starbucks or weekly pizza habit to free up income to invest in yourself (and become healthier as a byproduct!).
  • Maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone by taking a class, joining a networking group or public speaking group, to meet new people and try new things.
  • Maybe you need to sacrifice the (illusionary) security of that j.o.b. you hate to try a new job, or a new career, or start that business you always wanted.

The secret to success is planning time for growth, and committing regular time slots in your agenda for that growth.

If I looked at your calendar, would I know how you are growing? Are you intentional about growth? Is your growth time blocked out?

You must plan and schedule your growth so that you are prepared when an opportunity arises. Preparation + opportunity = success. The time to prepare is now, it’s too late when the opportunity arrives.

Are you disciplined about protecting that growth time? Sometimes, in order to find the time for your growth activities; you need to say no to other activities and other people’s agendas. If you are too busy for growth; you need to take a hard look at all the activities that take up your time and figure out which ones are unnecessary or low priority.

Get an accountability partner. If you struggle to protect your time, you may need an accountability partner such as a walking partner, spiritual director, in person class, regular mastermind group, or a coach. You are much more likely to follow through with your commitment to yourself, if you have someone holding you accountable. Having a person or group of people walking with you on the same journey, with whom to share the struggles and challenges increases your chance of success.

What areas might you need to grow in to lead a more successful life?

Health? Spirituality? Financial? Career? Relationships?

Take out your calendar right now, make a plan, and block the time out. Remember, as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”