Have you heard the statement, “Life is change, growth is optional?” I do not agree that growth is optional; it is a must. Many people struggle with change, some more than others. I believe if you start to shift your thinking to growth rather than change, which is ultimately how each of us expand and become better people, the changes that happen in life can be a little bit easier. Beginning your journey of development and personal growth can be overwhelming. I hope to cover some ideas that have helped me navigate it with grace, through some of my own personal experiences. You will falter at times, as I have. Having a good support system is critical.
I have actually just begun a new journey, one that is a bit overwhelming at times with multiple possible endings, but I have found that staying in the present as much as possible, and allowing short periods of reflection has suited me well. I set a time limit about thinking about the future possibilities and problem solving. I journal about these and other things to help to get them out of my head and off of my heart, then move back to the present moment, which is the only moment that any of us has to be happy in.
The first step in growth and personal development is to firmly make a decision that you are THE most important thing. Whether you are a mother, father, have a big responsibility at your place of employment, or anything else; the first thing to understand is that you come first. Working to constantly become a better version of your former self is one of THE most important things you can do in this life.
There are a few things that I recommend in the growth process, it is not necessarily step 1, 2, 3, and so on. In the larger picture, the first thing to be aware of and try to do is step out of your comfort zone. No growth or change happens within that space of comfort. You can come back to a comfort zone of sorts when needed: meditation, guided imagery, time in nature, etc. Whatever helps for you to become centered again is not falling back into old habits at all and is quite necessary to rest your heart, body, and mind.
Before you jump into a crazy list of expectations for yourself and things that you want out of life, start with really getting to know yourself. A better list whether in your head or on paper is knowing what you don’t want. As you begin to drop away old patterns of thought and behavior that is not for your higher good, you will begin to shed some light on what it is that you do want. This is a discovery process that will unfold as you contemplate what it is that you want to leave behind. Growth involves changing your inner world more than the outside world around you. Keep a firm grasp on the fact that you are the only person you have control over and understanding that those around you may not be along for the ride is a risk you have to walk through because your growth is not optional.
Once you have figured out what it is that you do not want, and you are beginning to realize what it is that you do want out of life, what you are passionate about…begin to set small goals to move in that direction. Everything does not need to happen all at once, you can move slowly or quickly, whatever suits you. I received wonderful advice from a beautiful friend recently, she said, “Whatever happens, move through it with infinite love for everyone involved and affected”. Thinking and acting this way will help everyone involved, but in the end knowing that you always acted the best that you could in every situation with love and grace will only serve you well.
Some steps will be easy. Others may be painful. Continue forward, taking brief respite in things that make you calm and centered. Remember, you do not need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Whether it is something small or something life changing, growth is not optional. Starting in your journey of development and personal growth will be one of the most important ongoing things in your life, and if you know yourself, what you don’t want, set a few goals, and most importantly continue to step out of your comfort zone often, you will be able to make changes in the area of your life that are needed.
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