It’s a new year and it’s that time to make false promises to yourself again. Does this sound familiar? Instead of creating a bunch of goals that you may or may not reach this year, I challenge you to join me in focusing on 1-3 goals that you can deliver on to growth hack your human capital this year.
Focus on a few key levers
The key to growing anything, including yourself, is identifying the levers that will make the most impact when pulled. In this case, we’re searching for 1-3 levers – goals – that we can set for ourselves that when completed will help drive the growth that we’re looking for.
Instead of mindlessly setting a goal that may lead us down the wrong path, let’s focus on the end goal and work backward. It’s amazing to me that people spend every day thinking about all the stresses and fires that are happening in their lives but when confronted with the question of: who do I want to be when I’m old? Most people can’t answer the question. Your life circumstances will continue to change as each year goes by so it’s important to ask yourself that question, at minimum a few times a year. Once you know where you want to go, you can work backwards from there.
To get to where I want to be when I’m older, where will I have to be 10 years from now? 5 years from now? 1 year from now? With those milestones in mind, you’re ready to grow towards those goals.
Find your levers (goals)
To identify what levers in your life will be the most worthwhile to focus on, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone. The areas of your life can be expressed on 2 dimensions: Your strengths (competitive advantages) and your weaknesses (opportunities). In Strength Finders by the Gallup corporation, the author states that focusing on making your strengths better will further strengthen your advantage. However, focusing on weaknesses will help you plug the holes in furthering your advancement across whatever dimension is important to you. Below is a visualization of my strengths and weaknesses across the dimension of my career – you can evaluate across any of the dimensions that are important to you e.g. health, wealth, realtionships, etc.
Items that fall in the upper left or upper right quadrant are worth pursuing as they have high value across the dimension of furthering my career. Anything that falls in the bottom left or right quadrants have low value and can be ignored.
Selecting and monitor a key result
Now that you have your items ranked by impact, select the ones you’re going to focus on this year. In my case, public speaking is moderately weak and has high value. Along the dimension of furthering my career, this seems like a very impactful lever to pull for growth. Now that I know what skill that I want to increase, how do I monitor it?
There are two basic types of Key Results:
- Activity-based Key Results: Measure the completion of tasks and activities or the delivery of project milestones or deliverables. An example would be: attend x amount of toastmaster meetups per month or next year.
- Value-based Key Results: Measure actual results and the successful delivery of value (or a value component) to the organization. Value-based Key Results measure the outcomes of successful activities. e.g. Win x amount of speaking awards next year.
Since Key Results should deliver on success, choosing a value-based key result is better as it monitors the success and quality of your efforts. Just because I go to 20 toastmasters a year does not mean that I actually got up and spoke or improved the quality of my public speaking.
Growth hack your human capital plan
- Identify who you want to be down the line (20+ years from now) and work backward to create a 5 and 1 year plan to achieve that.
- List out all the dimensions that would be important to you at that time
- Pick dimensions and identify skills within each that are important that apply to the dimension
- Plot the skills on an x-axis in respect to how strong or weak you are in each skill. Next, plot the skill on a y-axis in respect to how much value it adds to that dimension.
- Choose 1-3 levers to focus on and identify their key results
Now that you’ve identified your personal growth levers and their key results, it’s time to execute and monitor. The power behind this method is doing the upfront work to identify what will help you grow the most and choosing only 1-3 levers to keep yourself focused throughout the year. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and grow!