It’s the end of a year and close to the beginning of the next. During this time of year, people discontinue their focus on the current year and just wait for the next to begin.
Are you one of those people?
Are you telling yourself that you’ll start again at the beginning of the year? Regardless of what you want, you can wait until the beginning of January. Is that what you say?
Why do we do this to ourselves? You’ve been guilty of this and so have I. What’s the deal!
Why do we wait to begin anew? The only reasons we delay the new beginning is because of fear and lack of commitment. Maybe those are even one in the same.
Let’s use the most common example of a New Year’s Resolution.
You want to lose weight. No, you say you want to lose weight. There’s a difference between actually wanting to and saying you want to. Saying it is a whole lot easier!
When we say we want to lose weight, we’ll wait until January 2 to go to the gym for the first time. We know we won’t go January 1 because we’ll be too tired from staying up so late the night before. We might as well postpone that until January 2.
On the other hand, if we really WANT to lose weight, we’d start right now. Yes, right now! We’d put down that Christmas cookie, throw away all the candy Santa put in our stockings and go outside for a walk in the cold.
Does this happen? No!
Instead, we say we want to lose weight but it’s all talk.
Real growth, in any facet of our lives, takes intentional action. We can’t just say what we want. We have to do something about it.
That’s what I want to address today…Growth.
Last year I wrote a post about my one word to describe the year of 2014. That word was purposeful. In 2013, my word to describe the year was intention.
My word to describe 2015 is growth.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” It’s a popular phrase in many facets of life. Corporate executives, church leaders and entrepreneurs all quote it.
It’s a powerful saying and it contains a lot of truth. We have to grow. We have to get bigger, faster, stronger if we want to continue to lead.
Unfortunately, too many people are not intentional about their purpose for growth. They just want to grow for growth’s sake.
I coined a saying many years ago because I got tired of hearing people spout, “if we’re not growing, we’re dying” and that saying is, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying but you don’t want to die by growing.”
What does that mean? It means that growth is good if it’s structured and with purpose. It is all too possible, and quite common, for businesses to grow faster and bigger than their infrastructures can handle. Then they die.
I’ve witnessed some banks over the years whose management was so proud about how fast they were able to grow. Then, one day (the 2008 recession), those over-leveraged deals went bad and the banks failed. All because they grew without purpose.
Growth to just grow is not a good philosophy.
This post isn’t meant to be about growth for businesses. Instead, it is about personal growth. Unlike businesses, we can’t grow too much or too fast.
We can, however, try to do too much too fast. When we do that, we burn out.
That’s why you’ve wasted gym membership dollars in the past. You set too big of a goal at the beginning of a year and when you didn’t see those pounds melting away as fast as you hoped, you stopped going to the gym.
Personal growth is something about which we all need to be intentional. Really, it’s the key to happiness because it will impact every part of our lives.
One way you can look at growth is with the following acronym:
Negativity abounds in our society today. Most news stories are about the terrible things that happen in our world. It’s so rampant that I don’t watch, listen or read the news.
That means I’m not always current on what’s going on in the world. That’s okay with me. Other people make sure to tell me about the negativity because they thrive on it. Not me!
I don’t want to fill my head with those negative, wasting thoughts. It does me no good. I want to fill my mind, heart and soul with positivity, not negativity.
Can you relate?
It’s the same with complaining. The more we complain about something (and I’m all too guilty of this), the worse things appear to get.
Complaining becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We create scenarios that are worse that those that actually exist and just perpetuate the problem.
While I like the growth acronym, Getting Rid of Wasting Thoughts, to represent 2015, it’s not quite actionable enough. It’s difficult to wrap previous year’s words of purpose and intention into it.
Therefore, I’m using the following growth acronym for 2015. Let’s break down the growth acronym one letter at a time.
God is my all. Nothing is more important than God. He is the reason for every season. He is my Creator and therefore I must grow in him.
I’ve been a religious person for many years. Reaching heaven has been and will continue to be my ultimate goal. That goal cannot be accomplished unless I experience spiritual growth.
Being a good person isn’t enough. Loving others more than myself isn’t enough. Simply believing in God is not enough.
We need to follow what 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
I need to grow in my service to God by following his commandments. I try. I really do. But, I’m not naive to think I can’t do better. I can do much better.
Once I truly keep his commandments, then I will know the love of God.
God expects me to grow in my love for him. The way I show my love for him is by obeying his commands. Notice that verse doesn’t talk about choosing which commands to keep. It is all inclusive.
So I intentionally and purposefully attempt to follow what He tells me to do.
Instead of just “following his commandments,” I’m going to take the following specific actions to experience growth in God this year.
Intentional actions for growth with God:
- Read scripture daily
- Pray alone at least twice a day
- Pray with my children each day
- Talk about spiritual things with my children and wife each day
- Be ready to give an answer when asked of others
- Be a living sacrifice
Nothing gives us more pleasure and happiness in life than our relationships. Unfortunately, they also cause us the most heartache.
Strengthening our existing relationships and creating new relationships should be part of our daily focus. Why?
Relationships can help every other facet of the growth acronym…if we forge the relationships with the right people.
Many of our best relationships started by pure happenstance. We were randomly introduced to them by mutual friends, we went to school with them or we worked with them. That was fine up to this point.
Now, though, we need to be intentional about our new relationships. If we want to experience more than the mediocre lives we’re currently living, we need to surround ourselves with people who are living incredible lives.
Since we are the average of the five people we are surrounded by most, we need to be intentional about that sphere of influence. If we’re living mediocre lives, the five members of our spheres of influence probably are too.
If we want to grow with God, we need to surround ourselves with more Godly people. If we want to grow our incomes, we need to surround ourselves with more financially successful people. The list goes on.
Intentional actions for growth with relationships:
- Identify the five people I’m surrounded by most, e.g., sphere of influence
- Assess who robs you of energy and happiness and remove them from your sphere of influence
- Identify others in your network with qualities or traits you want and add them to your sphere of influence
- Perform intentional acts of kindness to others
- Write one thank you note per week to tell someone how you appreciate him or her
- When you ask how someone is, actually stop and listen
- Do a favor for a co-worker without expecting anything in return
- Don’t just say, “I love you,” show it
Opportunities for growth abound! Opportunities are everywhere, if we’re willing to see them. Then, when we recognize an opportunity, we have to take action. Otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity.
How many opportunities have you wasted in your life?
Looking back into our lifetimes is an easy but difficult process. It’s easy to see what we missed in the past; it’s difficult emotionally when we realize what we should have done.
Yes, hindsight is 20/20. We need to learn from those experiences.
On December 2, 2008, I took $700 and invested it into the stock market. This was one of the lowest points for the market during the recession. I knew I should take advantage of the low prices and get in the market.
I invested in five stocks with that $700. A couple of the stocks didn’t pan out but one stock, Ford, has excelled since that date. I think I bought the stock for $2.18 per share (I may be wrong but it’s at least close). Now it’s over $15 per share.
This was a huge opportunity to make some money in the market. I recognized it and took the risk. Looking back, though, I realize how foolish I was to only buy 50 shares. I should have bought hundreds or thousands of shares.
Isn’t that just like life?
Sometimes, even when we recognize the opportunities, we are still too cautious with them.
In certain instances, that makes sense. We don’t want to take too severe of risks with our lives or our finances. Sometimes, though, we just need to take the risk.
This year, if the opportunity arises to start a new friendship, change jobs, buy a new house, let your kids be kids, run longer than you’ve ever run before, etc., will you take action?
We can’t just expect opportunities to present themselves though. We need to make our own opportunities.
You are the author of your own life story. Only you can decide what happens in the journey and how you cross the finish line.
Will you step out of your comfort zone to create an opportunity? Do you have the guts to do so?
Intentional actions for growth opportunities:
- Step out of your comfort zone at least five times a day
- Perform some form of business development each day
- Don’t eat lunch alone; ask a prospect, client, friend, spouse or co-worker to lunch
- Wake up earlier than normal and use that extra time for personal development
- Identify a potential mentor and ask to be mentored
- Ask that buddy of yours who is starting a business how you can help
- Submit a speaking or article proposal to a trade conference or magazine
- Instead of watching TV, do something that will push your life forward
Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot gain wisdom by reading self-help books, watching training videos or even obtaining a college degree. Instead, you’re gaining knowledge through these means.
Knowledge is good — to an extent.
Knowing a lot of facts may help you win a trivia night but it won’t help you succeed in life.
It’s the application of that knowledge, or said differently, putting that knowledge into practice, that will make the difference. That’s what wisdom is. It’s the applicable of knowledge.
Do you want to experience growth in wisdom or just in knowledge?
Unfortunately, most of us are satisfied with increasing our knowledge base. That’s why we’ll read a book, say, “That was a really good book. I learned a lot from it,” but then we won’t apply any of it to our lives.
A common and overused term in public prayers is, “Apply this lesson to our daily lives.” While it is now cliché, its purpose is to accentuate the need to apply knowledge so we grow in wisdom.
You know so much already. The first step is to take what you know and grow in wisdom.
Don’t worry (yet) about learning something new. First, use what you already have. What is some knowledge you possess that you haven’t applied to your life circumstance?
Do you know the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly but don’t do it?
Do you know what can happen by not changing the oil regularly in your car but you ignore it?
Do you know the benefits that can be derived by providing immediate feedback to employees but don’t do it because you’re too busy?
We know so much it’s incredible to think of.
We should feel ashamed because we do so little with what we know.
Intentional actions to experience growth of wisdom:
- Each morning, write one thing you learned the previous day to apply that day
- Pray for wisdom
- Stop using time as an excuse and take action when you first think of doing something
- Read or watch something educational or motivational each day
- Find a mentor to help guide your daily actions
- Write down goals, read them every day and take at least one daily action to further your progress
Don’t you wish you had more time to accomplish everything you want and need to do?
Even if we extended a 24-hour day to a 35-hour day, we’d face the same issues. We’d still run out of time.
Time, and the lack of it, is not necessarily the issue. We are the issue. We are unproductive and inefficient with the time we have. We don’t prioritize our tasks and goals well. We complain and complain about our lack of time.
We need to stop complaining about having the time we need and look inside ourselves. We’re the issue and, therefore, we are the solution.
We need to experience growth in what we do with our time instead of trying to “manage time” or “make time.” Neither of those are possible so stop trying to do it.
Time is the most precious of all nonrenewable resources. No matter what we do, we can’t get time back. So we need to be very cognizant with what we do in the time we have.
Intentional actions to experience growth with time:
- Find something to enjoy with everything you do
- Whenever possible, decline to participate in activities from which you do not derive any joy
- Be present
- Start each day with some form of personal development
- Outsource or delegate unwanted tasks like mowing the lawn or cleaning the house
- Schedule ALL activities you enjoy, i.e., family activities, sporting events, church services, etc. and then fill in other activities around them
- Take a vacation
- To accomplish tasks, choose only two to focus on each day
In the six growth acronym categories, your health should come behind only God. Without your health, nothing else will matter. Without good health, your relationships, opportunities, wisdom and time won’t matter because you won’t be around that long for them to matter.
Can you imagine how good it would be to physically feel incredible every day? For most people, feeling good, much less great, is just a dream.
It’s usually just a dream, and not a goal, because people generally don’t do anything about it.
If good health came in pill form, they’d take it. Regardless of what the pharmaceutical companies try to tell you, your health will not come in a pill.
Instead, food is medicine the medicine that will heal your body and mind. Not only will the right food heal you physically, it will prevent illness.
A diet full of good-for-you foods will have more benefits to you physically than continuing to eat junk and working out seven days a week. Food is that important.
We could discuss the benefits of good health all day. It could take up pages and pages. We’ll skinny it down here though.
Intentional actions to experience growth with your health:
- Make the best choice of what to eat, regardless of the circumstances
- Plan ahead for what you will eat
- If you need to go back for seconds, eat more vegetables
- Increase your daily consumption of healthy fats like almonds, grass-fed butter or coconuts
- Do not each any refined sugar; only eat sugar found naturally in the food
- Increase water intake
- Stretch daily
- Exercise daily, even if it is just taking a walk
It’s time to implement the GROWTH acronym
These six areas of the growth acronym are pretty much universal to everyone. Can you identify any one of these six areas in which you wouldn’t like to grow?
Do you want to live a full, exciting, enjoyable life? Continuing to do the same thing you did this year will not help that come to fruition. You need to change.
Are you tired of being tired? Are you sick of being sick? Are you frustrated with being frustrated?
Now is the time to make a change.
Don’t wait until the beginning of the new year to change. Do it now. Stop looking in the past at your failures and look into the future at what you want your life to be. Visualize your perfect day and make it come true.
Question for you: Which of the five growth categories do you need to experience the most growth?