The Ongoing, Never-Ending Nature of Growth
Growth is ongoing. We never completely arrive. There is always work to do.
One reason people get frustrated with their growth is because they are too quick to compare themselves with others. This is always a losing battle. Either we compare ourselves with someone who is ahead of our growth and we become discouraged that we are not as far along as they are, or we compare ourselves with someone we are farther along than and become, at best, complacent or, at worst, prideful.
Another reason people become frustrated with their growth is because they look at it as a linear process. But growth does not happen in a linear, Point-A-to-Point-B way. You cannot chart your growth this way. Even if you said, for example, “I have zero dollars in my bank account today, but by the end of the year, I want to have $5000 in my account,” there are many small adjustments, choices, and decisions you will need to make along the way. There is also the growth that comes in consolidating what you learned on the journey, whether you succeed with the goal or not.
Growth cannot be tied to the completion of an objective. Growth is ongoing. There is an opportunity for growth each week, day, and hour.
A good reminder of this principle, for me, is in the biblical book of Philippians. The apostle Paul has been writing to this group of Christians about spiritual growth and maturity. He wrote about some pretty lofty things. (Read chapters two and three to find out more.) But later in his letter, he writes, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:16).
This concept, of living up to what you have attained, corresponds to the idea that growth is ongoing, cyclical, and non-linear. When we compare ourselves to others, we often find that we are not where we would like to be. When we think about the big goals we have, we often find ourselves coming up short.
But, if growth happens in small increments, then we can only ever gauge our progress based on what we have already attained, especially if our goal is behaviour-oriented.
If you really want to grow, the most important thing you can regularly ask yourself is this: “What am I learning, and what do I need to do next?”
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