What Does Personal Growth Mean To YOU?
I haven’t eaten beef in over 20 years. And that is a personal choice, one that I do not impose on anyone else. And I don’t imagine I will ever eat beef again…but who knows?! (I’m a firm believer in “never say never!”) The thing is, I have at various times decided to give up other foods for various reasons, often because I felt I “should” or that it was the “right” thing to do. And as we know…”shoulding” on yourself is rarely an effective catalyst for change.
Take last year for example, I decided to do a meatless month, which then turned into going fully vegetarian. While I won’t get into my reasoning, as that could take all day, I truly believed that I was making a choice that would be good for my health. And things started off fine…but they quickly took a turn. As someone with a wicked sweet tooth and penchant for junk food, I soon found that my plan to “become fully vegetarian to improve my overall diet” was replaced with thoughts like “Mac n cheese? Still vegetarian!” or “A bag of gummy bears? No meat here!” In a matter of months, my diet was HORRIBLE, and I knew it. And yet…I KEPT GOING.
You see…there was SOME part of me that felt like I NEEDED to stick with it because it was what I SHOULD do to be healthier. So even though my implementation was terrible and I felt like crap, I just KNEW that the plan was good, so I refused to let it go. When I found myself craving protein, I told myself that “we don’t need as much protein as people think.” When I started thinking I’d be healthier and have more energy if I ate some chicken or fish, I reminded myself of my super-healthy vegan friends who are athletes. Basically, I was TALKING MYSELF INTO “growing” in a way that just wasn’t meant for me!
Now I’m not saying I will never go veggie again…but if I do, it will be for the right reason; it will be because it resonates with ME, because it makes ME feel good, and because it supports the life I want to live…NOT because it “seems like the right thing to do” or is something “I SHOULD try to make a go of.”
Because at the end of the day, the ONLY path to sustainable change is what feels RIGHT to us.
And I dunno about you, but I’ve spent a TON of time and energy trying to grow in ways I felt I “should.” And inevitably, I felt like a major failure when things didn’t play out the way I wanted them to. Yet it took me what felt like FOREVER to figure out why…I was letting someone ELSE define what MY growth should look like. And if you ask me, that is ALWAYS a recipe for disaster.
So what exactly do I mean? Let’s look at an example!
Say you’ve decided to “get healthy.” So you decide to look at what habits your healthy friend incorporates so you can be healthy too. Now, as a strategy for getting ideas of things you MIGHT want to do as far as habits to adopt, looking to others is not necessarily a bad thing. It can provide inspiration, help generate suggestions, or even spark related ideas in the process. BUT, simply latching on to an idea because someone else is doing it? Not so much!
So let’s say you decide to become a runner…not because you actually want to run, but because someone you know is a runner and it feels like “what healthy people do.” The thing is, if you don’t actually enjoy running…if its making you miserable…if you dread doing it before, during, and after…then how healthy is it for you REALLY? (So yes, it may be providing certain physical health benefits….but I would argue that anything making you miserable is not good for your MENTAL health…which is just as important!)
So then…what IS the key to making choices for our personal growth that aren’t tied into ideas of who we should and shouldn’t be? Making choices that RELATE TO YOU and focusing on WHAT RESONATES rather than what is popular, what you see other people doing, or what society tells us we should aspire to. One way to achieve this? Use the following question: WHY am I choosing this as an area of personal growth FOR ME? If the answer doesn’t speak to how this can enrich YOUR life, increase YOUR level of happiness, or benefit YOU in one or more ways, then perhaps that is an indication of some deeper thinking that needs to happen. And if you don’t FEEL your answer resonating deep inside of you, keep searching for what does. You KNOW what is meant for you; don’t let external noise convince you otherwise.
I talk all the time about how I’m not the kind of coach who is going to tell you what to do and how to do it. (In fact, that isn’t actually what coaching is about…but that’s a topic for another day!) My role as a coach is to help YOU identify what to do and how to do it not based on my wisdom but based on YOURS. Because at the end of the day, each one of us has our own set of values and beliefs that guides who we are and how we want to show up in the world…and I don’t presume that my values and beliefs are the same as yours!
My goal with my clients is to help them create better lives for themselves…not because anything is necessarily “wrong” with the lives they are living but because I want them to be living lives that are extraordinary. In fact, that is what I want for every woman on this planet…to live a life that is even more extraordinary than you could have ever imagined.
And they key to all of that? You have to discover what resonates most WITH YOU…define the path that makes the most sense FOR YOU…find the people and things that you want to take WITH YOU on your journey…and then find ways to step into WHO YOU ARE MEANT TO BE IN THE WORLD.
And that may sound like a tall order, but it actually isn’t all that complicated. And you can start TODAY. In fact, you can decide RIGHT NOW to start making a chance by answering this question: What is ONE thing I know right now that I want to grow in my life? Then, once you’ve decided, what is the first, small step you can take to get started?