Reflections on Personal Growth
Personal growth is something I crave. A love of learning is one of my strengths. I absolutely love listening to podcasts, watching videos and read endless books on any topic that looks interesting or helpful. My goal is to be better than yesterday.
Everyone sees growth different. I thought I would try something out with my own students. Each day, I have my students fill out a slip on the word of the day. They are to write down the definition of the word (by using their own background knowledge, talking to another student or using Google). They also write down two ways in which the word can be used.
6th, 7th and 8th graders suggested that Growth is:
To get taller
Grow in length or knowledge
Increasing in size or profit
Getting taller or bigger
The process of increasing in physical size
To become bigger
How much something has changed
Advancing in something
You improved at something you were struggling in
To become better at something
Growing in either age or height
Learning and maturing
Changing as a person
This year I have been very successful with growing because I chose not to focus on growing in each area of my life at the same time. There is power in doing one thing at a time, and doing it very well. At the end of last year, I wrote down each area of my life from being a mom to my job as a teacher; and looked at what I ultimately wanted to achieve in that area of my life. I decided to write down each goal down as if it had already happened. For example, “I am an exceptional mom, or I have more money than I need”. Then, when I was able to devote time to specifically focus on working on being an exceptional mom, I would close my eyes and visualize what it looked like to be exceptional in that area. When I opened my eyes, I scrambled to write everything I could down on paper, and then I realized I had some idea of what it looked like, and had a point of reference of which to start from.
Over the course of the last three months, I have been gaining traction in several areas, and accomplishing more than I ever have before. I have decided to focus on going slowly and making deep progress rather than trying to do everything at the same time. Growth requires navigating uncharted territory. There are no road signs. The best thing that you can do is focus on the next thing in front of you. It is important to give your full attention to whatever the next step is. Mel Robbins would describe it as a Lego block. She advises people to focus on just finding the next block to add. I also like how author Gary John Bishop says, “Give obstacles your full attention. Become someone who loves obstacles rather than avoids them. He says that when you have nothing else, you have relentlessness. It requires no giving up, no quitting, no stopping, just moving forward.”
This reminds me of how I have started looking at hills in my workout. I used to hate hills. I would see them and literally avoid or grumble through every minute of my slow and painful slog up them. Now, I am altering my mindset to see a hill and think, “I wonder how fast I can charge up that hill?”
Like the vast number of analogies that are possible with growth and running, I recently heard a quote that reminded me of how I learned to grow as a card player. After high school, I learned the game of euchre, in our group of four people who played, two of the guys were excellent card players. At first I used to think that they somehow stacked the deck and got the best hand each time. As someone who was still learning the game, I would always wait to make sure to call anything or go alone only when I had, “The perfect hand”. Throughout several hands of cards, I began to realize that these guys did not always get the best hands; but instead enjoyed the challenge of playing the hand in the best way that they could. Just like in life, When you realize that the key to success is playing the hand you were dealt like it is the hand you wanted.
One of the best ways to see evidence of your growth is in reflection. Last week I listned to the Rising Tide Radio Podcast by Jennifer Hogan and Allyson Apsey. This reminded me of just how important reflection is to growth.
Personal growth needs to be personalized. It is important to think about how you have learned things in the past. And do more of that to learn things in the future. I have found that I learn well from audio programs, and see progress when I write things out by hand on paper. Blogging allows for a person to see the journey on paper. As author Rachel Hollis says, “Who you are is defined by the next decision you make. Not the last one you made”. The goal is to be better than yesterday. Today I am finding a way to play the hand of cards I have been dealt with pride, and be excited about the challenge in making them work for me.