Most people are familiar with the quote “When you stop growing you start dying” by influential author William S. Burroughs. This is a quote that I’ve lived my life by, though I tend to tweak it a bit and switch out ‘dying’ with ‘molding’. When you’re not constantly striving for new levels of understanding, learning, and growth, you grow mold just like anything else that stays in one place for too long. Many of the clients I work with have found they experience this in many parts of their lives. Not only may they be molding in their beliefs as an investor, but they could also be doing so in their marriages, their parenting, or their careers.
One of the keys to growth is engaging your curiosity and using it to fuel your endeavor to be a lifelong learner. When you focus on continuous learning, it’s nearly impossible to become stagnant and experience the dreaded ‘molding’ phenomenon. Of course, trying to grow too much or attempting to take huge leaps in your personal or professional life usually ends up backfiring. So what do I suggest instead? I’ve found that the process of incremental growth is very effective when trying to accomplish everything from developing new habits to learning more about your personality.
The Benefits of Incremental Growth
Incremental growth is the process of taking small, regular steps toward a goal. If you spend just an hour a day devoted to learning, you’ll be amazed at what you have achieved in as little as a few months. Don’t think you have time in your day for an hour of learning? That sounds like the excuse of someone who’s bound to get moldy! Everyone can create an extra hour in their day. Sure, it might mean getting up an hour earlier or bypassing the hottest new Netflix series, but the rewards are well worth it. You can spend that hour reading a book, taking an online course in a subject that interests you, or delving deeper into a subject that will improve your career.
However, I caution you not to limit your learning to that one hour. There are plenty of other opportunities throughout the day where you can squeeze in a little more learning. Here are some ideas.
Ways to Supercharge Your Incremental Growth
Books, Blogs, and Videos I got through 43 books in 2017 and I did it by reading for an hour every morning and also taking my book with me everywhere I went so I could read a few pages while waiting for a meeting or when I was eating lunch. You can easily watch an educational video, read a blog, or knock out a chapter of your book during ‘dead times’ throughout your otherwise busy day.
Courses and Classes I’ve worked with a lot of clients who’ve decided to re-enroll in college classes simply out of the love of learning. Whether it’s woodworking, car repair, or something related to your career, taking courses can be highly beneficial (and enjoyable). Even if you don’t want to go the college route, you can still take courses from places like Udemy and learn a ton on a topic for very little money.
Mentors Both personal and professional mentors can be an amazing source of learning. If you have a good financial planner who challenges you, he or she can be one of your mentors. You can also look for mentors at work, at your church, or in networking circles. I suggest having at least four mentors and meeting them for lunch or planning a phone or Skype call with them once or twice a month.
Friends and Family You can learn a lot from those closest to you! Self-awareness is something almost all of us struggle with, and your inner circle can really help with this since they know you best. Ask for some honest feedback on what you could improve or where they see you have a blind spot. Make sure you are prepared for the answers and don’t take what is said personally. Remember, this is all in the name of gaining awareness!
Out of all the clients I’ve worked with over the years, I’ve yet to meet one who wants to mold and live a stagnant life. However, it can be easy to fall into this territory if you don’t make a conscious effort toward incremental growth. Use the above tips to make sure you are constantly learning and you’ll reap the rewards of a life well-lived. Have a comment or question? Please leave it below!
Patrick Tucker, the owner of True Measure Wealth Management, has over 20 years experience in the industry and has spent the last 15 years learning the ins and outs of the fee-only advisory business. He focuses on client behaviors and what ‘wealth’ means for each individual client to provide care-giving plans that lead to a mindful fulfillment of financial goals. A lifelong learner, Patrick uses his continued knowledge to become a valued partner for his clients and help them explore the wisdom of true wealth.