Personal growth and development is and should be essential for everybody. As a human being, the knowledge drive is the most powerful one of them and as you get to learn new things, you are at the same time growing as a person, evolving into a better future self.
You can evolve professionally, emotionally, personally and so on. What’s important here is not to ever stop and of course, to find the time needed for this process. Because, whether you are aware of it or not, you want to evolve. Self improvement is and should be an important part of your life.
What about the lack of time? What can you do in order to never stop this process even if you are running a business?
Can you find the time that you need to allocate for yourself? Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can give at this time:
1. Make self growth and self development a priority
Your business is only as good as the choices you make for it. You know this fact, as a business owner or as a business head of operations. What you might miss is the fact that the better you are, the better your business will develop. With knowledge and experience come better decisions and consequently, an easier and more straightforward path to success.
Why is self-growth important?
Well, this is a process that has a lot to do with your personality and your hobbies and less to do with your daily duties. As of consequence, it will allow you to break up the routine and engage in pleasurable activities that give meaning to your life and help you de-stress a little.
Therefore, let’s underline some of the most important benefits:
De-stressor. Personal growth, if chosen according to your hobbies, dreams and personal needs, allows you to lose the daily stress and calm yourself a little bit so that you can restart your batteries for another day of work.
Home-schooling. Self development and growth comes from learning new things and engaging in new experiences, physically, emotionally or mentally. Such activities, however, are not in vain. Every new thing you do can help you learn something new and have a new experience. All these lead to growth and personal improvement although it might not always be professionally related. Your profession, however, will have a lot to gain from all the outside information you put on the plate.
Meeting new people. Engaging in outside activities that allow you to self-grow, will also allow you to meet new and interesting people. Some of them may not be your peers and have little to do with your professional background. However, they will open your mind to new experiences, new ideas and concepts and new values that can be put to work in relation to your business.
How can you make self-growth a priority?
Well, this should be simple. You need to consider yourself first and consider the fact that you are more than your job or your profession. As of consequence, you should follow your dreams and passions, even if you don’t give them much time. A few hours every week should be, however, enough for personal growth, if you dedicate them to the things you like or the things you want to learn.
“Consistent investments in personal development helped me create a context where I could leave my job as a marcom manager and start freelancing to do more of what I love, on my own terms and schedule.
The time I spent engaging with people (online and offline), reading, and building and growing side-projects taught me more about myself and what really works than anything I ever learned in college.
What’s more, today’s jobs are ever evolving. When I graduated 10 years ago content marketing didn’t even exist. Our world moves so fast that it’s impossible to predict where we’ll be a decade from now.
To adapt and thrive, rely on your fundamental ability to learn and keep building yourself as a human and as a professional.”
Always quantify the time spent with meetings; the times spent replying to emails, scheduling tasks, evaluate tasks or browsing social media channels. Curb your distractions to create the mental space you need and find/regain your ability to focus on what’s important.
Yeah, I know your job is important but at the same time, you need to understand that it is not everything you have. You need to understand that if you want to better yourself professionally, you need to better yourself as an individual. And, for this, you will need to allocate time to yourself. Personal interests and hobbies are an essential part of your life and they will allow you to improve your leadership skills as well. In order to engage in such activities, however, you will need free time.
To this end, I have several pieces of advice for you:
Use project management software. There are a lot of options like Trello, Asana or Zoho Projects.
Pair the project management software with a time management tool. Evernote, Toggl and RescueTime are some of the most popular tools to try out.
Pay attention to the open tasks and try not to spend more time than necessary with them. Do one task at a time and don’t get distracted with other non-essential activities. The sooner you get the job done, the better. You will have more time for yourself, a time you can spend engaged in activities that allow you to grow.
Take at least one day off every week. Sometimes it might seem to you that it is impossible but whatever problems you have, it’s more likely you will solve them after you’ve cleared your mind.
“Podcasts – in combination with my smartphone – are a great way to spend my time more efficiently: it’s a great way to learn while doing something else, which is not possible with books, e-readers or video. I listen to podcasts when I am commuting, jogging, driving and other activities. I recommend every entrepreneur to listen to podcasts in his domain as well as more generic podcasts about entrepreneurship.
One of the easiest things for an already busy individual is to settle with several comfort zones and never make a step aside. You know what you have to do on a daily basis, you know your profession and think that you are doing ok, despite the fact that there’s room for improvement. You’re, however, already familiar with things as they are and you don’t want anything to change, apart from the fact that you could care more for more hours of free time every day.
“As your comfort level goes up, learning and fulfillment can go down”. I’ve learned this line from CEO Coaching International’s podcast, in this very insightful episode that features Feyzi Fatehi, Chairman and CEO of Corent as a guest. If you did not listen to their podcast, nor have you read their blog, I highly recommend doing so, as they’ve helped me learn a lot about managing my business and keeping my work/life balance.
So what does this mean exactly? Why is comfort the enemy of fulfillment?
Well, staying inside your comfort zone means that you already settled. You don’t look ahead, you don’t look back, you don’t look aside. You are just going on, day by day, doing what you know and trying not to miss anything.
However, the business world is not a straight road. And, nor is the financial environment. When you manage a business, you need to be adaptable to harsh condition and of course, adaptable to change. You cannot adapt without learning, without committing mistakes, without solving problems. When you’re in your comfort zone, you tend to avoid new challenges, which can be devastating to your self-growth and to the future of your business as well.
If you don’t know where to start or how to change your routine, ask yourself the same question Feyzi Fatehi recommends: “If I don’t do it now, will I regret it?”
Sooner or later, you’ll have the opportunity to make a move that would take you out of your daily routine.
And, when it proves to have been a great move, you’ll feel sorry for not making it.
4. Document achievements that result from self-growth
You need to train yourself, train your employees and invest time in learning consistently and continuously. However, training may not be enough as sometimes, people forget about how everything they have learned along the way, helped them become more skilled and better at what they do. This is where validation and especially self-validation makes its entrance into the scene.
Validation is not mandatory but it will help you to keep going. It will also allow you to asses everything you have gained by investing in yourself. Build perseverance by making a list of your accomplishments and by identifying the key factors that contributed to them. Also, you should point out the benefits these newly acquired skills have brought into your life.
Open a document or an Excel sheet and save it on your computer.
Fill in a list of all your achievements, one by one and next to each one of these achievements, write down all the benefits that consequently followed.
For instance, if you own a website for your business and learned how to manage it, write down how this newly acquired skilled help you organize your work more efficiently and cut on some expenditures. Or, maybe you’ve learned a better way to organize your budget and now your business’s profit has grown.
5. Learn from your failures
Self-growth has a lot to do with failures as well. The path to personal development is seldom a straightforward one and most of the times, you will be facing some difficult decisions and some hard to solve problems. You will also make some errors.
Self-growth does not mean that you have to avoid making errors at all costs. You can try but sometimes, it will be impossible. It means that you can use these mistakes in order to further develop your skills and competence. It means that you can learn from them so that they will not be repeated.
To this end, you can also choose to write down your mistakes, the choices that led you to make them and the consequences that followed.
Use this list to make sure you don’t forget them. Use it as a reference for valuable knowledge.
There comes a moment in every entrepreneur’s life when you realize you can’t keep up with a crazy schedule of working non-stop without burning out or putting yourself in a hospital.
“Running is what helped me recalibrate. I started this habit four years ago, at full-tortoise-speed-ahead. It turned out to be one of the best decisions ever made, so I kept up with it and plan on running as long as I live. Now I’m able to run long distances, preferably in the mountains, although any kind of nature will work just fine to recharge my batteries.
It’s one of those meta-habits that act as domino: it greatly improves all other areas of your life, from sleep, to healthy eating, stress and so on. It gave me structure and discipline. It keeps me sane and way more productive at work. It’s my moment of solitude at the end of the day – you can even call it an active form of meditation. Even when I try to disconnect my mind completely from the daily challenges I face in my entrepreneurial journey, a long run really puts things into perspective. And it’s also a great way to meet amazing people from different social circles (cc: those of you who hate the pressure of networking).
One last things. Mental toughness is one of those factors that can make or break the success of a business. Running long distances helps build resilience and, at the same time, it will greatly boost your confidence. Hey, if I can run tens of kilometers in a mountain race, is there anything else that can stop me?”
Personal, self-growth is important for everyone. If you are running a business, on the other hand, this process becomes essential, as it will allow you to better yourself and come up with better results on the long run. Self-growth implies learning new and useful things, taking care of you both personally, professionally, and of course, dealing with issues and learning new ways to get past them. As we grow old we become wiser, more aware of everything that surrounds us and more efficient.
It’s important, however, to find the time required for the process. It’s important to clear your schedule for the things that matter the most for you and the things that help you grow. With this article I tried to pinpoint five of the best strategies you can use towards this end.
What other strategies are you aware of and how do you manage to run a business while self-growing at the same time?
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Content Marketing Strategist
"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."