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Growth Weekends

The importance of personal time in lifelong learning and development

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Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to interview hundreds of people for roles of responsibility at startups to global conglomerates. Some conversations stay with you. I remember speaking with a candidate one Friday afternoon. It was clear they were qualified for the role and I was confident the person would accept the job. As we wrapped up the conversation, we were chatting about weekend plans. “Oh, I’m having a growth weekend” was their response when questioned about how they’d spend the next few days. They described a distraction-limited weekend where they would take time to read, write, and map out what this new job would mean for their family. It’s then that I learned growth weekends can change your life. 

When we think of growth, images vary. From plants pushing up through soil, to children rapidly sprouting, growth often seems like something that just happens. However, intentional growth takes time and requires our presence. The premise of growth weekends is personal growth deserves our time and effort. Our progress is worthy of our calendars. Growth weekends mean different things to different people, but share certain commonalities. 

Growth Is Intentional 

As a leader, I’ve often noticed that teams who keep their goals and objectives meaningful and realistic tend to over perform and remain engaged, even through challenging times. Then, there are those who over architect the simplest goals, until no one knows what the objective is and can’t tell you how to move forward. Growth starts with identifying where you want to go. In fact, growth starts in the moment you decide to accept and cultivate change. Change happens to all of us, and those who accept that fact and envision how they will grow through change tend to not be jarred by the bumps of life.  

Growth weekends allow for focus because you set the agenda. It’s you who determines the outcome. Growth weekend focus runs the gambit, from looking at an objective like overall home improvement and then researching and planning the order of projects for a year to create the home of my dreams, to looking inward and determining best ways to improve overall health over a period of time. When the weekend is over, the work remains, but a realistic plan is in place. Growth weekends can be the energizing start to your next big achievement.  

Growth Requires Space 

Studies show we learn in different ways, including learners who are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing centric. That’s why it is important to create a space for yourself to learn in the way or ways that work best for you. Since introducing friends to the concept of growth weekends, seeing how they create their time of personal cultivation reflects how they learn. One friend buys a new journal and considers the weekend a success if she’s written for several hours each day. Another finds his best decisions happen in the midst of a long hike, so his greatest growth plans happen on dirt trails. You may have friends who start every year with a new vision board, using imagery to help them imagine the year ahead. As you plan for growth, you get to know ways that help you learn. 

Growth Takes Time and Focus 

Last year, Arianna Huffington and Olivia Nottebohm co-wrote an excellent article “More Than Work: Finding Focus in the Digital Age.” In it, they recommend taking time out each day, away from constant notifications and tech in order to improve focus and reduce stress. Growth weekends carve out weekend time to focus on our goals and objectives without the distraction of social media, email, calls, etc. While a distraction-free few days isn’t likely to occur in any of our busy lives, determining how we will limit distractions yields the space needed to do the work required for growth. 

You Are Worth The Work 

John Lennon is attributed with saying, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Yet, just like a cultivated garden takes time and investment, a well-developed life requires care and attention. Things will happen that are out of your control, but by spending time to identify your priorities and then making plans to achieve your next set of goals, you establish patterns of intention and growth. 

I am forever grateful for that brief conversation years ago about growth weekends. In reviewing their options, the job seeker did end up joining the company and we work together to this day. Making time for life’s big decisions, and honoring yourself by mapping out how you will respond to a setback or achieve your next learning milestone, is one important way to remain engaged and positive about your personal growth. 

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