How to do a growth inventory

Vanessa C. Mason
Dec 26, 2019 · 3 min read

I stopped going to therapy after generally weekly sessions for four years. I like to say that I graduated from therapy. I truly feel as though I’ve achieved a certain level of knowledge and mastery over who I am and what drives me.

A long time ago my therapist had me read Bell Hooks’ All About Love. In the book, Hooks offers a clear articulation of a definition of love captured in seven domains that she explores. In therapy, we adapted these domains to explore self-love, with my personalized definitions of how I operationalize love for myself in these domains.

As part of the exit process, my therapist prompted me to reflect on the ways that I’ve grown and changed over the last four years within these domains. It was a powerful exercise to chronicle how much my attitudes toward myself and the ways I treat myself have changed in ways I did not anticipate.

I liked the idea of this practice so much that I wanted to expand it to other areas of my life to do a growth inventory for the last decade.

A couple of years ago, I shared my Goals Grid framework for how I define my goals. The framework looks at nine different domains:

  • Personal: Happiness and growth
  • Professional: Advancement, performance, risk taking, satisfaction
  • Purpose: Life direction, values, spirituality
  • Loved Ones: Family and partner relationships
  • Friends: Friends and social relationships
  • Health and Fitness: Exercise, nutrition, sleep, mental health, stress
  • Learning: Knowledge, new skills and experiences, general curiosity
  • Play: Fun, variety, hobbies, travel
  • Finances: Saving, investing, paying debt, responsible spending, income/revenue goals

I decided to use this framework as the foundation for the inventory.

Next, I applied a set of five questions to capture the wide range of approaches to growth.

  1. Learn: What knowledge, skills, and capabilities did I absorb or acquire that contributed to growth?
  2. Respond: What healthy thoughts, feelings and beliefs have emerged that have contributed to growth? What unhealthy thoughts, feelings and beliefs have subsided that have contributed to growth?
  3. Reflect: What lessons have I learned about my needs, values, strengths and weaknesses that contributed to growth? What plans did I make?
  4. Act: What habits and practices keep me on a path of growth? How do I solve problems?
  5. Share: How have I asked for and received the support of others to continue growing? How do I interact with others in a way that reflects personal growth?

Within each domain, I addressed each of the five questions, doing a retrospective of the ways I have changed over the last decade. I was fairly exhaustive as you can see from my photos. But this also was an amazing opportunity to (1): indulge in my stationery obsession and use fun pens and (2) remind myself that milestones like turning 35 don’t have to be cause for dwelling in what’s not there but rather an opportunity to celebrate myself for how far I’ve come.

I probably wouldn’t do this every year but I could see repeating this in 5–10 years if only to give myself an excuse to buy more pens and markers.

Do you see yourself using this? How so?

Vanessa C. Mason

Written by

building equity for the future | coach for new #femalefounders @ #healthyhustlehabits | @yale @columbia alumna | vanessacmason.com

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