Leaps and Bounds
One day last week while scrolling through my social media, I came across a quote that stopped me in my tracks and forced me to take a pause and reflect. Now, that post is the focus of this week's column — so, thank you for inspiration, Instagram! Here’s the quote I came across:
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” — Aldous Huxley
The quote is powerful! It’s one that I haven’t heard or seen before, and it got me wondering — who is this guy Aldous Huxley? After some research, I discovered he was an English writer and philosopher who wrote 50 books (yes, 50, and since he only lived to be 68, that’s a book a year for his entire adult life!). Needless to say, this guy was an incredible talent. He also wrote a wide variety of essays, narratives, and poems, but upon moving to the United States in 1937, he became a screenwriter. He’s credited with screenwriting for such films as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Alice In Wonderland.
Though it’s not clear when he was actually quoted saying this, it is believed to be late in his life, prior to 1963. What I find fascinating about this is that more than 50 years later, his words are likely more relevant now that they were back then. I mean, let’s be honest, 2020 has not been the most ideal year for most people — so much going on, most of which has been completely out of our control. For many of us, no matter how much we have wanted to change our circumstances or improve our situations — we can’t!
But this checkmate isn’t where I want us to focus today, because it’s depressing but true — most of our circumstances are out of our control. So, what CAN we do?
We can improve our small corner of the universe, and it starts with focusing on improving yourself. And if 2020 has given us anything to really be thankful for — it’s the gift of time. Hopefully, you’ve used your extra time this year to focus on you, to grow and develop skills, connections, and character in yourself. But if you haven’t, I have some tips for you that can help you start the process of growing through the painful circumstances of this year, and I think you’ll be surprised to find that even with mere weeks left — you can grow by leaps and bounds THIS YEAR!!
I work with people almost every day on personal growth and development; it’s the cornerstone of what I do as a professional coach. And just like I say to my clients when I get them one-on-one — remember that professional development and growth is a journey that doesn’t have a specific destination, only forward progress. If you’re really committed to living your life to the fullest, you should always keep learning and growing. To me, this is the fun and exciting part — learning new things, skills, tactics, and truly rounding out my life with rich, good things.
But even as a self-diagnosed professional development junkie — this year has been a completely new journey for me, an uncomfortable one at times. It’s been about 4 years since I discovered my passion for the journey of development, and even though that puts my start almost 20 years into my professional career, this journey of growth has been irreplaceable. So, wherever you are in your life and career, you’re exactly where you are supposed to be, and now is the time to make the commitment to yourself to learn, grow, and improve. You get one mind, one body, one life — focus on it, improve it, and make your life what you want it to be.
There are a lot of things you can do to focus on your self development. I could fill this column up with ideas to help you along this journey, but I’m going to focus on 5 simple things to get you started on a path of learning, to kickstart your self-care wherever you are — and trust me, they’re so easy, you’ll want to implement them today.
The number one thing you can do for yourself is to read. Reading is at the top of this list, because it’s my favorite! I’ve always enjoyed reading, but in the past few years, I’ve really embraced it in a big way. Strange thing is, I can’t really explain why — my information addiction started with one book, then another, and now I’m up to reading at least 12 books a year. There is so much information available to you from experts around the world through the pages of books, and there’s immeasurable value that comes from reading a good book. My suggestion is to pick a topic that interests you, then find a relevant book. Maybe you enjoy teaching your dog new tricks, and you look for a book on the psychology between a dog and their owner. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to code your own website, and you look for a book for beginner coders. If you need ideas or recommendations, ask your friends, and colleagues what they are reading. Whatever it is that interests you, the important thing here is that you start.
Podcasts are an easy number two to add to your self development to-do list. These audio snippets of wisdom are readily accessible on a variety of topics and most are packed with unbeatable value, tips, research, and resources to help you in your life and career. There is no barrier to entry for this, it’s a free resource, and you can start listening today. I listen to one podcast each day — that’s a simple, 30-45 minute commitment. For me, it’s something I do early in the morning while drinking my coffee and gearing up for my day, and at other times, I listen while working on my “honey-do-list.” Just start. Find one, if you like it keep going, if not, find another one!
Journaling is easy, and believe it or not, writing out your thoughts is a huge anxiety reliever. It’s a great way to get your thoughts, feelings, reflections, and ideas on paper. Don’t overthink this, just grab a notebook and start writing. Doing this for 15 minutes a day will have a profound impact on you, help you reflect on your life in a purposeful way, and help you gain a level of clarity in your life that most of us are missing. Clarity is key to knowing what you want from your life and career, and the mental acuity of listening to your own thoughts can help guide you on this adventure.
Your fourth tip today — join a Mastermind or find a group of like-minded people with similar interests. Brainstorm together, bounce ideas off one another, and advance each other’s careers as you can. You’ll be amazed at how this challenges you and pushes you forward. Hearing from outsiders is a natural clarity booster — and we can all use more personal connection in a time like this. It’s also a great way to meet new people, develop meaningful connections, and be inspired by others.
And finally, take a course or class on something that interests you. For example, you could take a course to learn a new language. You could enroll in a class at your local community college that provides adult education on how to become a master at creating graphically pleasing social posts. Join a webinar to learn something new. The opportunities here are endless — just determine something new you want to learn about or a skill you want to further develop in yourself, and then find a program that provides what you need.
Whatever you decide to do, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or allocate a lot of time — remember, professional development is a journey with no specific destination. You can still bingewatch your favorite Netflix shows, but when you commit to set aside at least an hour a day to focus on YOU and your development, you’ll be surprised how quickly you learn to love this “me time.” I promise you that if you do this for the entire year and invest 365 hours in you — you will thank yourself for this commitment, you’ll see massive strides in how well you know and care for yourself, and you’ll experience unprecedented growth that’ll spur you on to enjoy your life to the fullest.
Leaps and Bounds are possible — just take one step forward today! Be sure to visit my blog and share your thoughts on what you are doing to become the best version of yourself. I’d love to hear from you! www.sidmeadows.com/blog.