Personal growth is not something we can achieve because it is an abstract concept. Personal growth is also not a destination but a long journey towards self-improvement.
There will be many things that we’ve encountered and will continuously experience in our lives. What’s essential is to march on and keep moving forward.
Imagine your younger selves and look just how far you’ve grown, how wide you’ve learned, and how much you’ve persevered.
We know that personal growth is much faster when we are younger. Think of a baby. They start to crawl, and then they’ll walk, soon they’ll run and play.
We also learned faster in school when we were younger. Look at grade-schoolers. They can read and write by the time they are in Grade 2.
So for most of our lives, we are growing at a pace that we thought we could sustain forever. We then start to believe that growth is simple and relatively easy, leading to unrealistic expectations like the many things we need to accomplish by 30.
However, reality soon starts to loom, and we begin to realize that it is impossible to only have progressions without any decline and more. Here are some of my realizations.
There will be ups.
When we talk about personal growth, of course, we always talk about our upward trajectory. We think about promotions, upgrades, sales, and recognitions.
We can even look back at our journey and see how much we’ve grown through the years. There are also times when everything is going great that we can only look up and thank the Lord for His grace for the blessings we received.
However, at the back of our minds, we’re a little anxious that anything that goes up must eventually come down.
There will be downs.
One of the best illustrations of personal growth is the stock market. A stock, no matter how strong it is, will always go down momentarily before continuing its upward thrust.
That is what I often imagine with our journey in life. Even if everything is great, there are times when we will face adversities and setbacks in everything that we do.
But those trials are what we also need if we want to learn perseverance and grow resilient.
Some ups can be very high, and some downs can be very low.
With the uptick and the downtick in our growth journey, the steep highs and the sharp lows can also come.
There are years when everything is going great. We receive a promotion, a salary increase, a significant personal or professional milestone, and even more. The euphoria of obtaining something you worked so hard on can place the dots of progress in the high end.
Then there’s the crash.
With every high, there can also be lows. Similar to the years when everything seems to go right, there are also years when nothing seems to go your way.
I remember in 2019, that year was one of the best years of my adult life. I made several significant changes that positively impacted my life – that, for me, is one of my very highs.
Then in 2020, like many, the pandemic brought us to our knees. I always try to keep in mind that when trials push us to kneel, it is the best time to pray.
The plateau of complacency.
Aside from the highs and lows comes the danger of complacency. There are times when our growth journey comes to a standstill. This is when we get unhealthy satisfaction with where we are or what we do.
I often see this with middle-aged individuals who, after attaining regular status, became satisfied with their position and salary, and they stop learning.
The plateau of complacency is dangerous because this is where dreams come to die.
Zooming out to look at the bigger picture
With all the ups, the downs, and the plateau, it may sometimes feel like nothing has changed. But if we look closely in our lives, though we feel like nothing has changed, at the same time, our life is no longer the same.
We can’t tell how our lives have changed through the years, but if we try to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, we will see the general direction of our lives.
The general directions may point us upwards or downwards depending on our significant life decisions, small but consistent actions, and different circumstances.
Remember that every major decline is an opportunity to bounce back. Every upward push is a chance to maintain consistency, and every plateau is a wake-up call that we need to change things up.
Personal Growth is a long and continuous journey. It is not something we can obtain overnight. It combines our major and minor decisions, life lessons, and marginal gains.
Think of personal growth like a plant. It starts with a seed, and then it begins to grow roots, then its first leaves, then it slowly gets stronger and bigger as time passes.
However, plants will not typically grow healthy in just any environment. Depending on what type of plant, it will need different nourishments, water, sunlight, and more. Simply put, one formula may not work for another. What is effective to one person may not be as effective to another.
We need the right environment to nurture us, enough difficulties to challenge us, the right attitude to keep us grounded, and a lot of God to guide us.
Our journey towards personal growth lasts for a lifetime, and if we do it right, then maybe we can pass the fire lit inside of us to the next generation that will continue a legacy.
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