It's fair to say that 5 years from now, you'll be smarter, wiser, and more competent. By then you'll have solved some of the problems that currently bother you. You'll have gained new skills you don't currently possess. You'll have achieved new breakthroughs that may not even be on your radar yet.
Since you're going to have these growth experiences anyway, why wait?
What if you could make those same gains in 1-2 years instead of 5 years? Better yet... what if you could make those same gains in 90 days or less?
Growth acceleration is the process of increasing your growth rate such that you achieve your desired personal and professional results in far less time than you otherwise would.
It's okay to allow things to come to you at whatever pacing happens to occur, but this is a fairly unconscious way to live. By exerting the right kinds of influence at the right pressure points, you can definitely speed things up — a lot!
Some people earn more money in a day that you might earn in your entire working lifetime. How is that possible? They didn't get there overnight. In most cases they built certain skills over a long period of time. Now imagine that you had such a person mentoring you every day. Surely you could see the potential for making some rapid gains. Your mentor could help shift your mindset, correct your false thinking, condition effective behaviors and perspectives, teach you valuable skills, and more. Within 90 days you could be earning much more money than you are now, thanks to this valuable mentoring.
This is how the great Renaissance artists from Florence worked. They organized themselves into guilds, where boys were mentored by experienced masters. This cut down on their learning time dramatically. Michelangelo, for instance, began an apprenticeship at age 13 under Domenico Ghirlandaio. This personal mentoring accelerated Michelangelo's growth tremendously, so he could gain skills in years that might otherwise have taken him a lifetime... or possibly never.
Mentoring is one way to accelerate your growth, but it isn't the only way. Mentoring is actually a specific application of a more general fundamental principle, which I call the principle of Love. This principle says that we grow significantly faster when immersed in a positive and supportive environment. It needn't be an environment that's oozing with lovey-dovey expressions of caring and affection, but it needs to be an environment that supports you in doing your best. The environment that coach John Wooden created for his athletes at UCLA is a good example. He wasn't lavish with praise or criticism. During practice sessions he would rapidly dole out simple suggestions for improvement — tiny changes here and there that add up to significant gains over time. It seemed to work very well for many of his players, including Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Get the fundamentals right and keep correcting small errors day in and day out, and you can accelerate your growth tremendously.
When you're out of alignment with the fundamentals and when you fail to make daily incremental gains, you suffer from growth deceleration and stagnation. Trying to grow without getting the fundamentals right is like trying to play an instrument that's out of tune. No matter how hard you work at it, the music you create will never sound right. Much of your practice will also be counter-productive because you'll be training your ear incorrectly. Trying harder won't help.
Teaching these fundamentals is one reason I love doing Conscious Growth Workshops. Once people grasp and internalize the core growth accelerators, they often have those wonderful a-ha moments. They suddenly see why they've been struggling in certain areas and why their old approaches were always doomed to failure. Then they can create a roadmap for building up their skills in alignment with the fundamentals, so they can start moving forward quickly. At CGW the fundamentals I teach can be applied to all areas of life — they're the roots of all conscious growth. At the upcoming Conscious Success Workshop in January, we'll go deeper into the specific growth accelerators for career and financial success, which I know is a struggle for many people these days.
Since I can't compress a couple workshops into an article, I'll share another approach you can use to improve your skill with the fundamentals.
Imagine your future self 5 years from now. Make it your ideal future self. This person has already solved the problems you currently face, made the money you want to make, and is enjoying the relationships you'd love to experience.
Picture yourself sitting in a room with a couple of cozy chairs. You're sitting in one chair, and your future self is in the other chair. Ask your future self to tell you about his/her growth over the past 5 years. What happened during that time? What kinds of breakthroughs or lessons were learned? What changes do you need to experience in order to become this person?
Now take just one of these changes, and dig deeper. Ask your future self for more details about it. Don't settle for vague and fluffy answers like, "Improve your self-discipline." Keep drilling down until you reach a more detailed level, such as "Start your day by getting up at 5am every morning. Then exercise for 30 minutes, shower, have breakfast, and put in two solid hours on your Internet business."
Once you have some specifics to work with, pick just one, and break it down into the simplest baby steps you can muster. Suppose you choose "exercise for 30 minutes each day before breakfast."
Now state your starting point, such as "I don't exercise at all."
Next, come up with one baby step you can take to move away from where you are now and in the direction of where your future self is. For example, if you're not exercising at all, and your future self is exercising for 30 minutes per day, you could exercise for 1 minute today. Then the next day, make another incremental improvement, like exercising for 2 minutes. Continue in likewise fashion until you achieve the desired result, locking in your future self's positive habit.
Here's how this might play out over time:
- Day 0: Pick an exercise that you expect you can handle, something simple that you can do at home or in your neighborhood, so you don't need to buy any equipment or get a gym membership. Running may be a good choice. Select a regular time of day when you'll do your daily exercise.
- Day 1: Exercise for 1 minute.
- Day 2: Exercise for 2 minutes.
- Day 3: Exercise for 3 minutes.
- Day 4: Exercise for 5 minutes.
- Day 5: Exercise for 7 minutes.
- Day 6: Exercise for 10 minutes.
- Day 7: Exercise for 12 minutes.
- Day 8: Exercise for 15 minutes.
- Day 9: Exercise for 17 minutes.
- Day 10: Exercise for 20 minutes.
- Day 11: Exercise for 22 minutes.
- Day 12: Exercise for 25 minutes.
- Day 13: Exercise for 27 minutes.
- Day 14: Exercise for 30 minutes.
Then continue to exercise for 30 minutes every day after that. In only two weeks, you've added this new habit, and you're one step closer to your ideal self. Did you really have to wait 5 years to make this change? Of course not. Now... for the next 5 years and beyond, as you continue to maintain this habit, you'll enjoy the wonderful benefits of daily exercise such as a happier mood, less stress, more energy, and better focus and concentration.
Continue in a similar manner with other changes suggested by your future self. If you screw up in installing a habit, pause and figure out where you went wrong. Are you pushing too hard or too fast? Slow it down and make simple daily adjustments. Nudge yourself to make a small bit of progress each day.
With a simple approach like this, you can install many habits from your future self within a few months — habits that might otherwise have taken you years to identify and adopt.
Ironically, slowing down is the key to increased speed. Rushing ahead with weak habits will only make you look silly when you crash and burn again and again. Get your fundamentals right first. These details matter. Master the ability to get out of bed when your future self would get up. Eat the way your future self would eat. Disconnect from the relationships your future self wouldn't tolerate.
To truly accelerate your growth and enjoy serious gains, this must become a daily undertaking. Keep comparing your current habits to the standard of your ideal future self. What would s/he do? What am I doing currently? What's the gap between where I am now and where I need to go? What baby step I can take today? Gradually and methodically shift your actions by small increments each day until you've locked onto the habits your ideal self would maintain.
If you integrate the elements of your future self's habits into your lifestyle in the weeks ahead, those habits will quickly sail you towards a very positive future, and you'll get there much faster than you would otherwise.
Remember — you're going to figure this out and receive these gains eventually. But why wait so long? Why not become this person today instead of 5 years from now? There's no need to go at a snail's pace when you can take simple, easy steps to accelerate your growth day by day.