I had a conversation with a colleague this week who boldly declared that her goal for 2018 was a 10% growth in revenue over 2017.  I told her that is indeed a commendable goal and then I asked, “What are the personal and professional growth goals you will be working on as you are achieving that revenue goal?”

The Colonel used to say that the quickest way to lose enthusiasm for what you are doing is to put a dollar figure on it. “If nothing is driving the bus but money, the bus quickly runs out of gas.” There have to be other areas of growth alongside the financial targets or the chase for the dollar will end up hollow and unfulfilling. So I propose a couple of other objectives to pursue in addition to any financial goals.

Grow intellectually – Consistently and consciously put yourself in situations where you are the “dumbest” person at the table. When you surround yourself with those who know more or have more experience than you do in many areas, it forces you to grow.

Choose a mentor – The fastest way to personal and professional growth is to connect with someone who has high expectations of you. Stretching yourself to rise to their belief in you is both challenging and rewarding.

Commit to reading every day – Ask your mentor and those you admire what they are reading, what they would recommend in your area of expertise. What books and articles are changing thoughts and minds in your industry? I am a fiction reader. I love science-fiction and fantasy books. Those I read in my leisure time. I also have to consciously commit time to read non-fiction that helps me grow personally and professionally. If you don’t know what others are publishing in your area of expertise and peripheral industries, you will quickly become antiquated.

Give back – Even if you are growing intellectually, stretching yourself to rise to a trusted mentor’s belief in you and educating yourself daily, it will eventually become a little hollow if you are not giving back in some manner. Giving back doesn’t have to be giving back financially (although there’s nothing wrong with that as well). It could mean being a mentor to someone YOU believe has potential. It could involve sharing your expertise with a chamber, Rotary, Kiwanis or another civic group for the pure reason of educating them. It could be volunteering time at a shelter or food bank and becoming one of the army of people it takes to feed and shelter the underprivileged in your community. However it manifests for you, do it without any expectation of receiving something in return. You will be amazed at how rewarding it is.

Financial goals are admirable, and without them, there would be no financial growth, but make sure they aren’t the only goal you are focused on as 2018 continues to progress.