It’s that time of year again…New Year’s Resolutions. The thought exhilarates some people and completely deflates others. The fact that only 8% of Americans say they always reach their resolutions probably doesn’t help. So is it time to forget New Year’s resolutions? Or, better yet, maybe it’s time to figure out how to actually reach them.
It’s no secret that if you want to reach your dreams and maximize your potential, you have to close the gap between who you are and who you need to become. Facing your growth gaps is where your resolutions begin and your personal growth takes shape. But once you’ve identified your gaps, you need a Growth TRAC to run on. A Growth TRAC is how you create, implement, and then monitor your own plan for personal growth. It helps transition New Year’s resolutions from “what if” to “what is”. I’ve discovered four ingredients to an effective Growth TRAC: Target, Roadmap, Accountability, Check-ups.
Target: What are My Growth Goals?
A good Growth TRAC sets clear and specific goals, or TARGETS, that provide direction for your growth. While it’s natural to set goals in the weak areas of our lives, it’s also a shortsighted approach to personal growth. Good growth plans build on your strengths, manage your weaknesses, and address your liabilities.
- Strengths are the areas where you demonstrate gifting, natural talent, passion, and successfully learned skills.
- Weaknesses are those areas where God did not gift you, perhaps at all. For me “the short list” includes things like music, sports, mechanics, carpentry, science, math, and counseling (trust me, there are plenty more).
- Liabilities are any behaviors, attitudes, or personality traits that cause (or could lead to) neglect in key areas of your life, prevent the fulfillment of God’s purpose for your life, or sabotage your character, integrity, or relationships.
Because you’ll make your greatest contribution through your strengths, it only makes sense to grow them to their full potential. Liabilities need attention so they don’t pull the rug out from under your life, relationships, and dreams. But weaknesses (as defined above) need only limited attention in your growth plan. Begin your Growth TRAC with clear Targets (or goals) that build on strengths and address liabilities in key areas of your life such as spiritual, mental, relational, and physical.
Roadmap: How Do I Plan to Grow?
The next step in a Growth TRAC is to create a roadmap that helps you get from point A (where you are) to point B (your defined Target). I’ve found four valuable stops in the ROADMAP of a good Growth TRAC.
- Training includes classes, schooling, conferences, seminars, workshops, and other instructional opportunities.
- Resources such as books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, podcasts, blogs, web-based tools and any other media that can transport new ideas into your thinking.
- Relationships such as mentors, coaches, disciplers, family members, counselors, and close friends.
- Experiences include opportunities, activities, or assignments that directly stimulate your growth.
Each of these “stops” in your Roadmap is essential to helping you reach your Target. Some are more natural than others depending on your unique personality type, but each offers tremendous value in personal growth. Work hard to include training, resources, relationships, and experiences in your Growth TRAC so that you can keep growing toward your dreams.
Accountability: Who Will Hold Me Accountable for My Growth?
This is the question we like to ignore. We tend to squirm when we hear the “A” word because we fear that all of our flaws and shortcomings will be seen under the bright lights of a friend’s questions. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that none of us are good enough to grow alone. Draw from your current pool of relationships, and let your growth Target tell you who your accountability partners should be.
Check-Ups: When and How Will I Evaluate My Growth Progress?
Periodic check-ups help you stay focused and make mid-course corrections as you implement your Growth TRAC. To help incorporate Check-ups into your Growth TRAC consider the following:
- Create a deadline for your Targets
- Create a specific timeline (with start and finish dates) for each element included in your Roadmap
- Enter every part of your Roadmap into the tool you use to manage your time and your schedule
- Involve your Accountability partners in periodic check-ups to help you objectively evaluate your progress