What is Your Growth Story?

If you were to tell the story about how you improved and grew for something you're currently trying to improve, how would that story go? What did you do to help yourself accomplish your goals and overcome all obstacles? That is your growth story, and it can be a tremendously powerful motivation.

. 3 min read. Goals, Mindfulness.

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The change between where you are now and where you are at some future date is your growth story. What’s yours? If you were going to start your story today, where would it begin? What would you be telling people you want to change? What would you say you’re doing today to get there?

At some point in the future – it could be a month, a year, 5 years or even more, what would you want to be telling people about your growth towards that change? If you were to tell them how you did it, what would future-you say? What habits did you develop that helped you achieve this? What was the hardest part?

There are a few things that a good growth story needs:

  • Something you’re hoping to grow.
  • A snapshot of where you are right now.
  • A vision of where you want to be.
  • A timeframe that you’re hoping to grow during.
  • Some way to hold yourself accountable (a metric).

Growing these skills not only helps you accomplish your goals and helps to envision a better future-you, but they come in extremely handy as skills in the workplace. In my role as Product Manager, having a vision of where we are and where we’re going is an important aspect. At times when I lack that vision or perhaps are still waiting on other factors,  I feel lost. When I don’t have an area in my life to grow in I feel similarly lost.

Growth Memoirs

I read a bunch of memoirs. 5 of the books I read in 2017 were memoirs. The reasons range from curiosity about a specific person, fascination about a way of life, insight into a different culture or help understanding another gender, or point of view.

Memoirs allow you to travel the world vicariously in a real-world setting – one that is still filled with excitement and risk. I’ve recently learned I love adventure memoirs like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country and I’m actively looking for new ones to read. (If you have any adventure memoirs you’ve enjoyed, please let me know!).

The genre of memoirs I most connect with though are growth memoirs – ones where you follow someone’s journey on a path towards self-improvement. Books like Gretchen Rubins The Happiness Project, Dan Harris’s 10% Happier and most recently Cait Flanders The Year of Less which I started right after it’s release!

What these growth memoirs have in common is that they start with a personal challenge. “What if…” is the trigger for changing a lifestyle and seeing how it impacts them. Reading through others stories of growth and struggle helps motivate me in many ways. Seeing someone else accomplish a goal and the work involved in getting there helps me realize that most things aren’t easy. Most impactful change isn’t going to happen overnight – and hearing what worked and didn’t helps me refine my own approach towards my goals.

What’s My Growth Story?

There are many areas of my life I’m trying to improve. My finances, my relationships, the skills that make up my job, Minafi, skiing, and many many more things come to mind right away. Focusing on too many things at once is a recipe for failure. My underlying growth story today that weaves between lots of parts of my life could be phrased like this:

I want to be financially independent before I’m 40 (I’m 35) while practicing a life of abundance every day.

This doesn’t mean quitting my job (which I love, and I’m not just saying that), but that I want to reach that milestone. I find the term a life of abundance hilarious when I’m writing about minimalism, but that dichotomy makes sense in a lagom sense. It’s the idea that I feel fulfilled in all aspects of life, but without approaching excess. The blog is effectively about the follow-up questions:

  • Something you’re hoping to grow. In this case, the core metric is financial.  It doesn’t mean that’s the only thing that I focus on, but it is an easier metric to grasp than abundance (but I am tracking this to some extent).
  • A snapshot of where you are right now. I communicate these every quarter in my quarterly investment reports.
  • A vision of where you want to be. Running the numbers on FI with Options, I have a number in mind.
  • A timeframe that you’re hoping to focus on this for. Although this is arbitrary, 40 is a good number. If things happen before that, all the better!
  • Some way to hold yourself accountable (a metric). The FI side has a clear metric, but how do I hold myself accountable for practicing a life of abundance? I’m currently tracking my happiness via exist.io, and will report on how that goes once I get enough data.

Having an area that I am actively growing in my life is important to me.

What’s your growth story? 

9 comments

  1. “In my role as Product Manager, having a vision of where we are and where we’re going is an important aspect. At times when I lack that vision or perhaps are still waiting on other factors, I feel lost. When I don’t have an area in my life to grow in I feel similarly lost.”

    As a fellow Product Manager this totally resonates with me, haha. I’m struggling with it at work right now and it’s tough because I’m not a PM anymore, but I’m doing consulting work that supports multiple PM’s and it’s tough to get alignment on the direction our products need to take, together. I feel lost.

    And sometimes that makes me feel lost in my personal life, too. It’s strange how that bleeds over.

    Exist.io seems super interesting but also slightly creepy. Curious to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. That “lost” feeling is no joke! Being in that position or organizing a bunch of PMs sounds familiar for me too. Trying to get alignment is hard enough with two people – much more difficult with more.

      Exist has been fun so far! I’ve been tracking my happiness using it as well as having it tie in with a bunch of other stats. Seeing some of the findings from it has been interesting so far (ex: “I rate my day lower when I drink alcohol” / “I get 39 minutes more productive time on days I don’t have beer”). There are a bunch more correlations in there that I’ll write about once I have more data!

  2. I just thinking about some of the things I want my growth story to include and I’ve discovered I need to focus up! If I look 5 or even 10 years down the road my goals are all over the place and sometimes in conflict with one another (ie. a long list of places to travel and an equally long list of savings goals to hit). I need to pin down what the most important steps are for me and concentrate on hitting those.

    And for an adventure memoir, I really enjoyed ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall (and I’m not a big runner).

    1. Ohh nice, I’ll add “Born to Run” to my list. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Trying to organize a bunch of goals and work towards them is always a challenge. Lately, I’ve had some success creating a general outcome that then has a bunch of bullet points on things that could be grouped together as metrics towards that goal (ie, “live a life of abundance” has both travel and financial goals). Knowing which has higher priority can then help break the tie.

  3. I’m also an adventure memoir fan. My all time fave is “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon with a runner up of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. I find that I naturally gravitate to introspection and growth and have consistently maintained a journal since I was twelve. I also use a physical planner to list and arrange goals, dreams, and execution. Each year builds on the previous efforts, but I find that I obsess over some ideas that don’t always help me. I’m impressed by how you organize your improvement efforts.

    1. Ohh I haven’t read “Blue Highways” – I’ll have to check that one up. I read Zen last year and enjoyed it. It was quite a bit different than I expected, but not in a bad way.

      The journaling as a way to arrange goals, dreams and executing sounds really interesting. I’d love to hear more about how you organize that if you’d be up for sharing it?

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