What do you want to be when you grow up?

With school starting, education is on my mind. Our days are so full of work, family, friends and some sort of extracurricular activity (hopefully) it’s sometimes disconcerting to think, “How in the world do I continue to advance myself? Where do I fit in?” I ask you—isn’t that the point of life—to become something more than what we started off as? The better we are in general, the better we will be for all those elements we come in contact with.

It is common to be concerned, as a manager or a person, with not letting anyone down. But if we don’t start with ourselves, aren’t we just setting ourselves up for failure and everything we ultimately touch? Think of the last time you flew and the flight attendant, when going over life and limb safety procedures, reminds you to put on your oxygen mask first. Because the simple fact is that if you are incapacitated, you can’t possibly help those around you!

There are steps in your day-to-day life you can put in place to make sure the crucial element to life, meaning YOU, doesn’t get missed. It’s your choice to place the appropriate level of importance on these elements so they are carried out. And this isn’t just about work-life balance, it is about evolving yourself so you can not just survive each day but thrive. We should look at ourselves as works in progress. That way we can progress.

What helps is creating a development plan for yourself. That way you have a structure laid out to follow, and you know what targets you are aiming at so you are more likely to hit them. Use it to set milestones, and refer back as needed. At the end of each year, do a postmortem to assess how well you did and where you are. Then modify your plan for the next year to get yourself that much closer to what you want. You don’t want to dream big then wake up five years from now in the exact same place. By focusing your efforts, you won’t waste your time doing things that do not contribute to where you really want to go in life.

4 Steps to Self Advancement

STEP 1   “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.”Arnold H. Glasgow

To begin, a funny question I ask myself and my employees is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Seriously. Forbes recommends taking a moment to draw out a clear picture of what success looks like for you. Don’t let yourself get tangled up in other people’s definition of your success. Make sure to add as many details to the description as possible. The more real it is, the more you’ll be able to visualize yourself in that place, and the pathways will become clearer on how exactly to get there.

Example: I’d like to be the #1 recognized and rewarded manager for my area’s accomplishments in the company. (Define the specifics around this desire)

STEP 2   “Details create the big picture.” Sanford I Weill

Next, write down all of the things that need to happen to make that picture a reality. Once again, details count. There are specific rungs in a ladder that must exist to get you where you want to go. What are yours?

Example: I must run my operation to be a high performer around all the standards that are important to my organization. (Determine the metrics that illustrate better performance)

STEP 3   “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napolean Hill

Put a timeline to these that you are going to work toward and the actual time you will need to invest to make these a reality. Schedule this out in your daily planner or calendar. Think of yourself in terms of a project. If you were redoing your bathroom at home, you’d want a schedule that illustrated what needed to be done and when from the plumber and electrician to the tile guy. Do the same thing for yourself in your own “remodeling” per see. It’s crazy, but many of us can justify spending our time on something like a bathroom versus our own personal advancement.

Example:  This quarter I’m going to focus my efforts, 1 hr/day, on building and launching a referral program that I will position through social media in order to grow my sales by 4% this month, 8% next month and 22% by end of the year. (Many steps go into this—schedule them out)

Notice that this example track starts with you but reaches out to other important quadrants of your life, such as work.

STEP 4   The final and last step is said best by Nike®, “Just do it.”

I realize this is the part that is always easier said than done. Those who take action will obviously continue to be those who rise to the top. They aren’t just doing what everyone else is doing. They are doing more in Thought, Effort, and Attitude. You may not see it, but trust me they’re doing it. I’m sure you can look back at your life even now and call out that one big accomplishment. It didn’t just happen to you, you made it happen. Go for it! One last quote to get you on your way…

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

By, Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions | 20 years Cross Industry Experience | Corporate Marketing and National Sustainability Lead, BlueLinx |Chief Strategic and Creative Officer, Limelight Advertising | Strategic Marketing Manager, Vail Resorts

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