As I see it, there are three reasons for personal growth.
First, we have the incidental growth that happens as life moves forward. Things change, you adjust…it happens to everyone and we barely even notice.
Then there’s the growth we’re required to undertake in order to get un-stuck. Most of us end up in one hole or another along the way and have to grow our way out with a more deliberate effort. These are usually the result of life changes you didn’t have any say in like divorce, downsizing, deaths, bad parenting, natural disasters, and physical disease.
Then there’s the “growth on purpose” that some people take on as a lifestyle. What will life teach me today? How can I improve my reaction to that? Where are my attitudes limiting my potential? How much more happiness and productivity can I find?
We all know that growing is hard and few of us actually look forward to it. When you’re immersed in struggle that you didn’t expect in the first place, you look forward to the day you can just relax and get back to your life. Taking on growth as an everyday practice can sound absolutely exhausting…unless you see it as a way to prevent struggle, kind of like a preventative care insurance plan.
If you went through a divorce, for example, it may have been the result of choosing a partner who was similar to one of your parents. Obviously that relationship, and the failure thereof, were intended to teach you a few lessons about yourself and help you grow into a better choice next time. Fair enough. But what if you had looked for the growth work in advance and learned those lessons before you committed yourself legally and started raising kids? You may have chosen a better partner the first time and skipped all those uncomfortable legal battles.
Similarly, if you were the sudden victim of a downsizing process, maybe you learned that you need to be more proactive in your career to stay on the ship when times are hard…and maybe a little pre-emptive personal development could have gotten you there the first time. Or maybe your lesson in the downsizing was to go out on your own and live your passion as an entrepreneur, and maybe you could have been on that path from the beginning.
There no doubt that the lessons are valuable, and it may have been necessary for you to take that time and go through that struggle in order to get where you are now. An amazing life isn’t about getting it right every time or never making any mistakes. But - if you just sit there waiting for your “growth opportunities” to hit you in the head, they can be far more unpleasant.
Taking on growth as a lifestyle is as proactive as you can get. If you can avoid the abrupt struggles, then life flows along smoothly. While it does take some effort, it pays off with peace and balance, happiness, security, minimal drama, and the satisfaction that comes from earning your good fortune. It’s like being in control of your own life rather than being a ping pong ball. Or choosing the fast lane simply because you have somewhere to be.
Consider the concept “you get what you pay for.” Why wouldn’t we apply that to our lives? This is the biggest investment we make by far, so take it to the limit.
Time to transcend! This blog series is intended to challenge you by reaching beyond the status quo. If you are feeling resistance, consider that your ego is coming forward and presenting you with an opportunity to grow. This is where the magic happens!