What is growth exactly? Much of what we read or hear about, growth=more.

Goals, often times than not, are formulaic. e.g. Sarah sets a goal to be making y dollars in x amount of time. When she reaches her goal, she would be naturally inclined to set a higher goal. In this scenario, more y dollars in a new x amount of time, and maybe a new variable, minimum of z steady clients. As Sarah reaches every new goal, does she keep going bigger and higher?

I was recently listening to an episode of The Gently Mad podcast, hosted by Adam Clark, featuring Daniel Mall, designer, speaker, and founder & design director of SuperFriendly, when this very thought was rekindled. The entire talk was great and extremely insightful, but there was a particular segment of the conversation on growth that I especially enjoyed.

“I think growth is natural and growth is expected, and I think we’re created to want to grow. It’s thinking about how that growth happens. By default, we’re just like ‘Yeah, I’m gonna grow bigger, and do more.’ It’s about more—more money, more clients. A lot of this year for me is gonna be devoted to what growth looks like if it doesn’t mean more clients, bigger work.”

—Daniel Mall

So what does growth look like if it doesn’t mean bigger or more?

Think horizontally some rather than always vertically.

I have many goals set for myself. I have accomplished some, am still reaching for others, and set new goals for myself regularly. I would consider myself a very driven, hungry person—I got a master’s degree (because I told myself I would years before college), do not owe my educational institution a dime, own my home, have no car payment. I also recently entered into new arenas of life—I’m a husband and a father. As ridiculously hungry I am to grow as a designer and developer, I have to intentionally temper my aspirations and remind myself that I also need to grow as a better husband, a better father, a better handyman to fix things around the house, a better Christian so I can properly and spiritually lead and care for my family.

Examine areas in your life where you can see room for growth. Growth in any area requires time and investment, even if it means taking time away from or limiting yourself in one area to grow in another area. Don’t consider it compromise; consider it growth management.

Be careful not to spread yourself out too thin either.

Purpose to grow and invest most in people and things that you love and that are most important. I love photography and am intrigued by videography; however, I had to decide that I wanted to own good-quality equipment (still working on that one…) and learn to take great photos and shoot great video, but I couldn’t afford to invest too much time and money in efforts to become an elite photographer or videographer.

That doesn’t mean you should totally avoid “lesser” things. I recently got myself an Xbox 360 with Modern Warfare 3. With everything I do, I want to be good at it, so naturally I play not only to go into my “box of nothingness” but to get better, but I have to be careful not to play too much and neglect my work, family, or even rest.

Every day I push and want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday, but not always as a designer and developer.