For those of us who have been in the industry a while, we’ve seen a lot of change. Digital marketing channels, design, development, you name it, it has changed. But I can tell you what hasn’t changed much: growth plans. I bet even seeing the words “growth plan” may cause some dread or an eye-roll or two. I don’t blame you.
I’ve been working in the marketing industry for almost ten years and every growth plan I’ve done has felt the same. I’d look up some certifications I thought I could use, I’d find a course or conference and call it a day. It was like going through a checklist just to say I had done it. I wasn’t sure if I ever felt like I’d done any “growing.”
This past year, I spent a lot of time in self-reflection. With so much change in the world around me, I wanted to know the ways in which I wanted to change. I was very fortunate to be a part of an organization that was open to this and embraced the change. So, we worked on something together – a whole new type of growth plan:
No certifications. No conferences. No courses. Just things that I felt would make me a better person. A better ME.
I can tell you, I’ve never been more interested and motivated to work on my growth plan. I feel invigorated and inspired to do my work and have found unexpected ways to bring my non-traditional growth plan into my traditional job.
So what did my personal growth plan include? Glad you asked! Here are a few elements I included:
I’d never been one to give meditation a try. My mind always seemed to be aflutter with thoughts. But the more I researched, the benefits of meditation outweighed any nervousness I had. Better sleep, less stress, more focus, more self-awareness and empathy. Each one of these makes us a better person and, in turn, a better employee and worker. Wouldn’t we all be able to contribute more in a meeting or working session with a bit more sleep? What about trying to balance a heavy workload? Some increased focus could be a big benefit.
Added pro-tip: try to give yourself 5-10 minutes in between meetings – especially big meetings – and use that time to meditate. Since adding this into my work life, I’ve become a lot more relaxed and focused in the meetings that matter.
- WFH Workout
Before working from home became the new-normal, I used to go to the gym during my lunch break at work 3-4 times a week. Now the lines between home and work, break time and focus time have become increasingly blurred. People would play fast and loose with meeting times and there was no time for my health. There were days I’d be sitting at my computer from 8-5 in back-to-back meetings all day. Then I’d have to go pick up my kids and BOOM, the day was done.
To add exercise back into my work from home routine, I started by putting a block of time on my calendar around lunch time. It wasn’t necessarily required, but it was a daily reminder to ask myself when I’d get invited to meetings (or consider setting one up myself) to reevaluate. I felt more empowered to push a little bit and question the meeting invites that came strolling into my inbox. Do I really need to go to that meeting? Do I really need to schedule that meeting?I learned it was ok to say “no,” all because I needed the time to focus on my health as well. And, it turns out, most of the time, that meeting can be an email instead. Win-win.
I, like so many people, suffer from anxiety. Meetings with clients made me anxious and I could literally watch my heart rate go up on my Apple watch before big meetings. Not good. So I made it a priority to start journaling. I focused on how I was feeling, what my triggers were, and monitored them over time. By being more intentional and recognizing what I was feeling, I was able to better cope and plan for things. I no longer got thrown for a loop when a client would question something. I was better prepared – the meditation and exercise probably also helped.
Bridging Personal & Professional Growth
While it hasn’t been a full year since implementing my personal growth plan, I’ve already seen the results spill over into my professional growth. My relationships with my clients have improved. I’m more present and focused in my communications with them and can bring them better work. I also feel more confident, which helps build trust with the recommendations I give to them. My fellow coworkers have noticed changes as well. They can see I’m less anxious and don’t get nervous as easily. It’s been so fulfilling to hear how my personal changes are becoming noticeable by those around me.
Not sure you’re ready to pull the trigger on throwing out your old growth plans? Start small. Add in one area of personal growth for your employees to focus on. Offer incentives for them to focus on areas outside of professional growth as well. Perhaps reimburse your employees for a portion of expenses spent on fitness. Or look into business subscriptions for meditation services such as Calm or Headspace to offer to your employees.
So here’s my challenge to you: managers, employees, leadership – try a new way of thinking about your growth plans. Leave the certifications, courses, and conferences off. Try it for a year. See how much your team grows as individuals AND as employees. And, if I were a betting gal, I’d wager you’d see a ton of improvement in morale as well as your employees’ contributions overall.