With the election season winding down here in the United States, our world faces a potentially gloomy forecast as winter quickly approaches. Over the weekend, the US reported the grim news of record spikes in COVID-19 cases, with Europe and China potentially facing new lockdowns of their own. This is before we even truly dive into what many are forecasting to be a very hard winter in both the economic and public health sectors. If we think about it, finding areas for personal growth is the most realistic area we can take something positive out of these coming months.

COVID-19 has altered, diluted, or even removed many elements of daily life we had previously been able to turn to in past times of hardships. From the stock market to sports, and even the holidays, it’s hard to turn to silver linings that typically provide beacons of distraction or optimism from news headlines. 

The losses and disruptions of the past eight months have created a sense of varying degrees of helplessness. While we most likely can’t turn to the economy or news for optimism this winter, we can use these times to truly commit to improving ourselves.  

With that said, let’s discuss some areas of personal growth many of us can use to galvanize a sense of optimism if we truly commit to them. I am eager to hear your thoughts! 

Realize Personal Growth by Embracing a Hunger for Learning 

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson 

Learning is one of the purest forms of personal growth humans have. In a world defined by rapid disruption and transformation, we are all very well-suited to embrace any opportunity to harness a hunger to learn in our lives. This winter, I am committing to being a sponge and learning whatever I find might benefit either my personal or professional life. Before jumping into a learning goal, I hold a few principles dear:  

Commit to truly engaging with learning – Do not try to learn something if you aren’t truly committed to engaging with the knowledge you set to acquire and the learning experience by which you acquire it. For example, be prepared to devote a specific number of uninterrupted hours a week towards the learning and growth you hope to achieve. 

Commit to consciously applying learning into action – In most cases, the impact of what we learn is truly measurable in how it impacts our behaviors and the subsequent results of that behavior. When setting a learning goal for yourself, make sure you include a plan for how that learning experience is set to tangibly impact your day-to-day life.  

Reflect on your learning – reflect on the progression and results of your journey. Are you meeting your goals? Are certain tactics helping better than others? Has your interest pivoted as you have learned more about the topic you chose? These are all valuable things to note throughout the process. This can be as formal as keeping a journal, or as informal as simply devoting more mental bandwidth to reflecting on your learning. 

Ebook – Re-thinking how people and workplaces learn. Download here

Commit to Building a Sense of Balance and Capacity 

In a recent interview, I sat down with Bob Glazer, best-selling author twice named #2 on Glassdoor’s list of Top Small & Medium Companies’ CEOs and on Top 22 Conscious Business Leaders of 2019 by Conscious Company. In this conversation, we discussed Bob’s philosophy that has helped propel himself and his teams to success and is built around the concept of capacity building. 

In its purest definition, capacity building is the method by which individuals seek, acquire, and develop the skills and abilities to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of their innate potential. There are four core elements of capacity building that are interdependent and govern virtually all aspects of self-improvement: Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, and Physical.  

These different areas of capacity are extremely impactful to becoming a high-achieving individual over a long, sustained period, but they only truly thrive on balanced development.  

For example, if our intellectual capacity is high (we acquire knowledge quickly), but our emotional capacity is not, we struggle to translate our knowledge into actionable behavior because we may struggle to adapt on the fly or communicate with our teams. These imbalances may hinder our ability to turn knowledge acquisition into positive results. Balancing these four areas will lead to learning that suits us well in our personal lives and professional careers. 

Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his newsletter here.    

Commit to Pursuing Solutions for Which You are Passionate 

The temperature of our social climate hasn’t been this high in quite some time. While this has undoubtedly been emotionally taxing to anyone with internet access, to me it also underscores the opportunity for widespread action in pursuit of solutions to some of our most pressing issues. Whether it is race and equality, climate change, or even just the simple divisiveness of recent years, we are in a time that desperately calls for solutions that will only be solved through action. 

If you are someone who finds themselves disheartened with the current outlook of the world, or even in your personal life, the time is now to channel that into action. No action is too small. Just starting with constructive conversations between family, friends, colleagues, or even strangers – small actions are still actions that create positive inertia for long-term change. 

Ebook – A Guide to Courageous Conversations: Download here
Article – Turning a Conversation from Divisive to Constructive: Read here

Parting Words: 

In times of uncertainty, we must look harder than ever for areas of excitement to keep us optimistic and engaged. While life is undoubtedly difficult – bordering on overwhelming – for many of us, it is now time to work harder than ever on growing ourselves, our workplaces, and our communities. This commitment will rarely look the same for any two people, but it is a vital first step for all. I hope this article helps all of us reflect on areas of opportunity where we can make the most of the coming months.  

Food for Thought: 

Is it possible and/or necessary to push ourselves to achieve personal growth during uncertain times? What commitments do you hope to make for your own growth in the coming months? Can we harness personal growth to also benefit collective growth?