I am a believer in growth. I don’t mean physical growth, although taller would be nice! Instead, I am referring to intellectual, mental, and experiential growth. As I look out my window, I can see new growth getting ready to explode. Growth is fresh, hopeful, and full of possibility. We joke in our family that we don’t have weaknesses; we have opportunities for growth. Seems like most people desire to grow in one area or another. Unfortunately, many times we undermine this innate desire by failing to make space for growth to occur.
In order for anything to expand and flourish, it needs an opening. For example, a seed can be started in a Styrofoam cup, but it needs to be moved into a larger pot for the roots to expand. If left in the cup, the seeding will eventually die. Likewise, if we want to learn new things, develop new talents, or enjoy new experiences, we need to clear some breathing space in our lives. How do we do this when our lives are uncomfortably packed? Here are a few suggestions…
- Have a “place to putz”
The most creative location is a wide-open surface. This can be the floor, a workbench, or the kitchen table. An open space is an invitation to bring something in or explore a new project. If every surface is crowded, we are far less likely to use this space to explore a new possibility.
- Be open to the unexpected
Growth is unpredictable. Not everything works out according to plan, and often we end up at a destination that we never anticipated. Growth is about nimbly adjusting to obstacles and finding a new way to keep expanding, even if we aren’t sure where we are headed. Take a class, attend a seminar, build something with your hands, or reach out to a new contact. Hit a wall? Try again in another direction.
- Allocate time
If you wait to have “free” time to do something new, it won’t happen. The first step is blocking out time in your schedule. You don’t need to have an hour per day, but you do need to give yourself permission to set aside other commitments. True growth can be fast or slow, and typically comes in spurts, which means you can grow at your own pace.
- Walk Away From the Comfortable
Sometimes it is good to kick back and “zone out.” Nonetheless, progress most commonly occurs when we are reaching and striving. Bones, for example, must be pounded upon to grow and strengthen. If we want to develop something new, we are going to have to leave the familiar routine and endure a bit of discomfort. It can be helpful to remember that feeling awkward, inept, or insufficient is normal when we pursue a new endeavor.
- Clear the Dead Weight
Just as a gardener prunes a tree to enable it to bear fruit, we too must get rid of what is unnecessary in order to maximize our potential. We all have limited resources, and burdens are cumbersome. Ask yourself what feels “heavy” (a relationship? a habit? a possession?), and be intentional in developing a strategy to either shed it or minimize it. Letting go lightens the load, making each step we take a bit easier.
* * * * *
Regardless of your situation, I encourage you to be open to growth. Do you have a passion or interest you would like to pursue?