In my part of the world, this has been the epitome of a beautiful spring weekend. Warm sunshine, a little rain, and that magical spring air that lets you just feel the world coming back to life around you. The earliest blooming flowers have already started showing their faces, and my favorite ones - lilacs - will follow soon. Although spring can be unpredictable, it is a time of awakening, renewal, and growth.
Sometimes the changing weather prompts a parallel internal experience - a spring of the soul, if I may be a little dramatic. I’ve never been much for New Year’s Resolutions, personally, but springtime almost always brings a renewed sense of interest, motivation, and energy toward the rest of the year. It feels natural to begin thinking at this time of how I want to shape and direct my growth in the coming months.
So, I thought I would share that sense of anticipation and forward-thinking with you today, by presenting 5 thought points to help you get into a growing space! Grab yourself a journal, or pull up a keyboard, and let’s get curious about growing.
Ready? Ok, let’s jump in!
How do I want to grow?
I know, I know, Captain Obvious here. But if you don’t know how you want to grow, you won’t know where to channel your energy. Energy is a finite resource. Rather than flailing around without direction and wasting precious energy, think about how you want to grow your life. Are there skills you want to develop? Interests you’d like to explore? Relationships you would like to strengthen or redefine?
For each area that you want to grow in, consider what growth looks and feels like. If you want to grow in assertiveness and confidence at work, what would that look like? How would it feel different than your current sense of yourself? Create a picture in your mind of growing in these traits will feel. How will you stand when you are more confident? Will your posture, your nonverbal communication, or your tone of voice change? What do you anticipate that will feel like?
Imagine, with all the detail you can muster, what it will be like to achieve growth in your chosen area. Visualize yourself embodying whatever skills, traits, habits, or other changes you aspire to make. See it as an event that has already taken place - now you just need to get there.
How can growing in these ways improve my life?
We generally choose goals based on the belief that achieving them will improve our lives in some way. How do you anticipate your areas of growth improving your life? Taking a class in photography, for example, will help you develop your skills with a camera. That could benefit your life by enabling you to take beautiful photos that evoke a profound emotional experience when you view them. On another front, learning to speak in public might empower you to take a more leadership-oriented role at your job. You might even find it easier to handle social anxiety outside of work.
Think about all the ways your chosen area(s) for growth could improve your life. Imagine your life already better in those ways. What does it look and feel like to live in that improved space? Be detailed!
What is keeping me from growing?
Chances are, you’ve wanted to grow in one or more of these areas before. For one reason or another, it hasn’t happened yet, or maybe hasn’t happened to the extent that you wanted. What do you think has contributed to that? Think about what might make it difficult for you to grow in the ways you want to. Are there things you fear about the changes you would make? What kind of risks are involved? Are you afraid of failing?
Are you afraid of succeeding?
If you pursue growth, your life will change. There may be parts of you that are not fully on board with changing. If you feel ambivalent, or anxiety keeps rearing its head when you contemplate growing in your chosen areas, be curious about the resistance. What are your resistant parts worried about? How might they be trying to protect you by resisting change?
How can I tend the soil to support my growth?
Some plants are delicate, and require very careful and particular care. Others are hardy and need the bare minimum. Whether you feel more like an orchid or a dandelion, you will grow best in an environment that supports and nurtures you. So what do you need to create that environment?
Think about the people, places, and things that make you feel good. When, where, and with whom do you feel most safe? Most loved and appreciated? Most you?
The answers to these questions are what make up your most fertile grounding. Take a moment to imagine being steeped in that care. How can you create that sensation more often? Visualize yourself growing and thriving in this enlivening space. What does it look and feel like? How can you build that around yourself?
How have I already grown?
This is important. Having goals and aspiring to growth is wonderful. A growth mindset reduces stagnation, empowers and enlivens you, and enlarges your world. But a growth mindset should also be balanced with a gratitude mindset - toward yourself.
Now is not the first time in your life that you have grown. What has your journey looked like up to now? What are you building on? Even if you feel like you’ve been stuck for ages, I promise you have experienced growth in your lifetime. As ye olde ska band Relient K once sang, “I struggle with forward motion.” But struggle does not mean the forward motion hasn’t happened.
In your readiness to move forward, take a moment to look behind. Send some appreciation to yourself for the growth you have achieved already. That growth is the foundation for the growth yet to come. Trees grow both into the sky and into the earth. There is value in your history as well as your future.
Grow on, my dears.