One of the core themes of my blog is personal development and as we launch into a new year, our thoughts often turn to new growth and new possibilities.

Personal growth.

It’s a concept we’re all familiar with (a recent Google search turned up over 2 billion results), but as someone who strives for clarity, I recently asked myself, “What exactly does personal growth mean?”

As a business leader, for example, is personal growth simply a function of the number of books read, conferences attended, or training certifications earned?

Perhaps most importantly, how can we measure if we’re really growing or not?

After a little research, I found a clear, concise definition of personal growth from John Maxwell, the most prolific author and thought leader in the leadership/personal development field.

In his Lessons on Leadership series, John cites three criteria for growth:

• Bad Habits Dropped
• Wrong Priorities Changed
• New Ways of Thinking Embraced

I love the clarity and simplicity of this definition.

Personal development boils down to forming new habits, embracing new priorities, and developing new perspectives in any area of your life.

One way to apply this definition is to ask yourself, “Am I the same person I was last year, in my habits (my daily disciplines), my priorities (the things I attach importance to), and perspectives (the way I think about my life)?”

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then regardless of how much content you consume or weekend conferences you attend, chances are, you’re not growing.

Instead, your ideal answer would be something like, “No, I”m not the same person I was last year; I have, through deliberate intention and action, elevated my habits priorities, and thought patterns. I’ve changed. I’ve grown. I am, in all respects, able to present a better version of myself than last year.”

Imagine the impact on your life if this “yes” answer was repeated year after year for the next 5 or 10 years.

As you consider how you might begin the journey to lifelong growth in 2023, keep in mind these two important caveats:

1. Personal growth is personal. You are the only person who can make the decision to grow–no one can do it for you. It starts with a commitment, followed by a plan.

2. Personal growth will cost you. It will not only demand your time and energy, it will also push you toward the edge of your comfort zone. The most influential people in my life have learned to live at the margins of their comfort zones; to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Based on these criteria, how would you assess your growth in the past year?

What would it mean to your success, self-confidence, and personal fulfillment to develop a growth plan for 2023?

How can I help you?

I’m looking forward to your feedback.