Are you proactive or reactive? In this article I highlight growth mindset and proactive practices to goal formation. You will learn my process through a recent career experience.
It begins with confidence in yourself to try new things. Without confidence, you remain reactive – allowing life to happen to you. Let’s dive into these two human superpowers: Growth Mindset and Goal Formation.
Human Superpower: Growth Mindset
Ask any top athlete, musician, performer, surgeon, IT professional etc. how they reached the top of their profession? Inevitably, their response includes hard work. Hundreds, thousands of hours working at their craft. A misconception many hold about successful people is they were born with it. This thinking locks in their reactive mindset.
How do you develop the passion to spend so much time in your pursuit? Personality-type drives passion and personality is influenced by experience. You have to believe that if you apply the time, results will come. Mindset is developed through practice. I attempt to model and point this out to my kids. When my son is successful on the soccer field, he knows it’s because we play year around, hot days, cold days, good fields, bad fields, front yard, back yard, good opponents, weak opponents, it doesn’t matter. I have roughly estimated his time spent on a soccer ball at well over 1000 hours – he’s 9. Whatever becomes of his soccer career he understands time spent in pursuit yields results. With that mindset, he has unlocked something in life.
Human Superpower: Goal Formation Process
I determined that I wanted to make a career path change. To use my analytical mindset and focus to enter the data analysis field.
Pre-work and Initial Learning Phase
- Personality introspection – because we need to increase confidence – I highly recommend Meyer’s Briggs and Vark Learner styles assessments. You will gain insight into your personality type and preferred modes of learning – vital information for what comes next.
As a result of taking of 10-minute Meyer’s Briggs assessment you learn which of the 16 personalities is yours. Prepare for many, “that’s so true” moments as you learn how your personality type interacts with others.
When taking the VARK learning styles assessment you learn your preferred learning mode(s). Mine are Read/Write and Visual. When provided charts and graphs or written content, I grasp the information best. Learning in your best mode facilitates the growth mindset superpower. And learning in the wrong mode stifles it.
2. Research – Primarily done through reviewing LinkedIn job opportunities and internal company postings. I found specific software skills were key to enter data analysis. Salesforce appeared in many searches and looked interesting, so I started there.
3. Learning – I took free courses on Salesforce Trailhead to earn “badges”, quickly earning 10 of them.
Proactively Advocate for Yourself
4. Practical application – through internal job postings I discovered departments using the software. Reached out to people in those departments, asking them how they used Salesforce and shared my interest – networking. They shared their experiences and pointed me to the next person. Eventually, I landed one of these conversations with someone who needed Salesforce help on a small admin team. I dove in headfirst while still performing my current job duties – spending 5-8 hours per week for several months working with this team and gaining experience in Salesforce as a system admin.
5. Go for it – Then I revamped my resume and applied for internal opportunities. I used the keyword search analyst and pored through 30-40 openings – applying to 18. For most, I did not receive an interview. After each interaction I asked recruiters what prevented me from advancing, learning it was required or desired skills in SQL and Tableau.
6. Implement feedback immediately – not familiar with either tool, I dove in. Within 6 weeks I spent 30 hours on independent projects on Tableau public (read more about that here) learning this powerful visualization software, while developing an online profile there to display my dashboard work. AND another 25 hours in SQL taking coding courses on Codeacademy and LinkedIn Learning. In addition, I reached out to a reporting team director, asking for any opportunity to help and learn. He assigned me small problems to answer in SQL – the best way to learn. All done on top of performing my normal job duties.
7. Track It – I track data. Steps on my phone, project hours at work, soccer statistics, personal financial data. I enjoy it. Lately I’ve used that data to draw insights with Tableau. Which is ideal because I’m developing a software skill and while examining data and having fun – synergy. Find ways to combine fun and skill development. Track your time for personal encouragement and evidence of effort. We can’t control outcomes, but we can control our effort. You’ll to have data to demonstrate progress and data drives decisions.
As a result in November 2020 I accepted an internal offer for Financial Analyst II – Systems. Mission accomplished! Demonstrating a growth mindset (confidence to learn anything), problem-solving and passion – traits valued by any employer.
Goal Formation Process
I work best when I jump into something. I can get started with, “I want to learn this.”
- Just get started – you need to understand what is possible to develop realistic goals
- Short-term goal – I typically form these after spending about 5-10 hours in practice and this is a goal(s) I expect to achieve within a month or two
- 30 hours each spent in Tableau and SQL courses
- Intermediate term goal – this 1-3-year goal I form once I pursue something for a couple months and the passion is there. Asking – am I enjoying this enough to commit the time required?
- Create and update a couple dashboards at work to provide business partners access to important insights in a clear way
- Save 25 Data Visualizations on Tableau Public
- Long-term goal –Your dreams. What you aim for when dreaming that becomes clearer and more specific over time.
- I’m developing one for Tableau – creating a Facebook group that commits to creating and sharing 1 Viz a week on Tableau Public for 1 month – a crowdsourced, free social boot-camp to improve this skill together. More to come on this one.
You can take the same approach with any pursuit. I’ve done the same with our personal finances – on goal #4 currently:
- Track our spending on mint.com (just get started)
- Get quotes on recurring expenses – i.e.: cell phone, electricity, insurance, internet (short-term goal)
- Payoff all consumer debt (intermediate term goal)
- Achieve a 25% savings rate (intermediate term goal)
- Retire in 10 years from my corporate job (long-term goal)
This is my process for developing Superhuman Powers: Growth Mindset and Goal Formation. You may already utilize other methods, but I encourage you to have a technique to developing these. Comment below on what works best for you or if any of this material helps you along the way.