There are countless books on growing as a person or on the topic of personal change. Their appeal is inviting, even romantic. They outline and give shape to the dreams in our life that seem so far away. They sometimes have the feel of describing the person we “want or wanted” to be.
Are personal growth and change the same thing? By growing do we change? Or do we need to change in order to grow? I know, you’re reading this and thinking “does this really matter”?
How would you describe personal growth? I’ve thought about this a lot for I know I have grown as a person in terms of my contacts, my experiences, and the world around me. Things that used to be important now are not as much so. Other things that I paid little attention too now are very important in my life. I try to live my life with more intention and less habit. I try to fill my days with more engagement and live less by “the way the wind is blowing”.
How would you describe personal change? I weigh 8 lbs less than I did 6 months ago. My daily routine has changed so that the first 4 hours of each day are spent on the details of my business exclusively. I walked every day on the treadmill for 6 months but now I don’t. I just read my first novel after spending most of my time reading non-fiction.
Do you notice the difference? In describing personal change you hear of more specific facts that are not very romantic. In describing personal growth the words are more general, more “sweeping”, more exciting. When describing personal change you tend to hear about a start or a stop. When describing personal growth you tend to lose track of time and enter a world that seems like it has no boundaries.
Are they connected? When I was younger I would have said no. But as I have travelled down life’s journey I have found that each small start and stop (personal change) has helped me grow as a person. You see to enter a world on earth that has no boundaries, you first must become more disciplined to start and stop more often.
Starts and stops in life are initiated by choice. Some choices are small and other choices you make (or not make) are more defining and enduring in the path your life will take.
We tend to choose personal growth and its promise while ignoring the hard, boring work of personal change. Why because again we are so flawed and so imperfect. Don’t get down on yourself. It happens to all of us. Instead of dreaming of the person you would like to be, practice starting and stopping to help you become more of the person you truly can become.