This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s personal productivity resource, Today Matters. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost leadership and personal growth experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for success planning contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here.
Jim Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, once delivered the commencement address at Seattle Pacific University. In it, he spoke about the midlife crisis that many people experience between the ages of 35 and 50. He said, “I believe that it is more a phenomenon of a wrong value system than it is the age group in which it occurs. All of a sudden you realize that the ladder you’ve been climbing is leaning against the wrong wall.”
It’s a scary thought – that we’ve spent half of life walking in the wrong direction. But clarifying and embracing your values now can help you direct your personal growth to ensure you don’t wind up miles from where you want to be.
Questions to Guide Personal Growth
Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become men of success. Rather, become men of value.” But when we know what we value and strive to live out those values daily, we become both.
Ask yourself these questions to determine who you are so you know how to grow into who you want to be:
1. WHAT VALUES HAVE YOU BEEN EMBRACING UP TO NOW?
One of the best ways to answer that question honestly is to examine yourself in a few key areas:
- How do you spend your time, especially your discretionary time?
- How do you spend your money, especially your discretionary money?
- Who are your heroes and role models?
- What do you think about most, especially when you’re alone?
Your answers to these questions will tell you a lot about what you really value.
2. WHO HAS INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN THE AREA OF VALUES?
Try to recall as many of the people as possible and write their names down. Then, write the value or character quality they encouraged you to adopt. (Note: Some of the values may not be positive. Your goal here is only to identify the values that you already have.)
3. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO EMULATE FROM TODAY FORWARD?
Write down the names of some individuals whom you admire and identify what you admire about them. As you decide who you’d like to consider your role models, include a one-phrase strategy describing how they will guide your personal growth (“meet to discuss values,” “study their life,” “read their book,” etc.).
4. HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED YOUR FEELINGS IN THE PAST WHEN THEY MADE YOU WANT TO COMPROMISE YOUR VALUES?
Has that been a difficulty or an area of strength for you? Most people need to develop a plan for personal growth in this area. Try these:
- Identify the areas where you most often struggle, and then try to avoid putting yourself in those kinds of situations in the future.
- Brainstorm the pros of keeping a value versus the cons of compromising it in an area of weakness. Write the pros and cons on an index card or in your daily planner so that you are constantly reminded of the rewards of discipline and the consequences of compromise.
- Ask someone to hold you accountable in your area of weakness.
5. WHAT TIME DO I DEVOTE TO INTENTIONAL THOUGHT ABOUT MY VALUES?
When something is important to us, we put it on our calendar or to-do list. We make it a line item on the budget. We make it a point to give it space in our lives. Making values a priority is no different. If you don’t strategically plan a time and designate a place to reflect every day on how your practices compare to your values, they might not get any consideration until the deciding moment comes.
What are you doing today to experience personal growth?
Step 1: surround yourself with others who are just as committed to growth and development as you are. The Maxwell Leadership Certified Team is a community of leaders, influencers, and high-achievers who are developing daily and empowering others to do the same. Click here to discover who the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team can help you become.