I started this year determined to have a year of growth, of huge personal and professional development and a year I could look back on and say “YES” as opposed to “I wish I’d done better.”
In January I feel as if I were a little seed ready to sprout underneath the soil, buzzing with naive excitement about the year ahead and convinced that what I was choosing to nurture myself with was the best of the best. I had big goals, determination and a sense of momentum that was keeping me firmly in the driving seat. I started a happiness project, I subscribed to the best ‘personal growth’ podcasts I could find, I read books (not enough), I journaled regularly, I took online quizzes and I continued to share my innermost thoughts and opinions on social media with the desire to inspire others to grow with me along the way. And this has been the way of things for pretty much the last 11 months. Grow grow grow. Don’t look back. Keep going. Keep learning. Be better. Do more. Do better.
To say it has been a lot is probably an understatement. On top of raising two young children, moving house and becoming self-employed, I have chosen to dive headfirst into learning, and at times, this year has felt more intellectually stimulating than my entire 4 years at University combined. My journals are full of reflective musings, notes I’ve taken from all the podcasts and books, my weekly goals and intentions and all those big epiphany moments that keep coming, even now. I can almost see the change in myself through the pages of my journal, yet I’m really just the same, but what I know has changed. Mostly too, it’s been amazing. The feeling of having an “aha” moment or learning something that shakes my core feels like I’m literally being propelled forward into a world once unknown and in truth, it’s kind of addictive!
Recently though, I feel like I’ve over-watered myself because I’ve forgotten to pause to let things settle before continuing. I feel like the soil in which I’m living is now totally saturated and as a result, I’m feeling lost, stuck and unable to bloom, sometimes barely even able to move. There’s struggle instead of ease and there’s some pain instead of all the joy, and instead of feeling a balance of satisfaction and expansion, I’m beginning to feel the need to take a deep, long pause, to re-centre, to allow the excess water to drain away and the soil to recover.
I’m reminded again of one of my favourite quotes: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu
So why have I been rushing? Rushing towards becoming a version of myself I firmly believe exists but without taking into account all the unexpected twists and turns along the way. In rushing to learn and absorb all the wisdom in the world, I’ve forgotten the need to practice it all too, because simply listening, reading and talking about things is not the way to truly grow.
So what now? I can’t stop. It’s too late for that. Growth and self-discovery is exhilarating after all and I’m committed to it because I DO believe if done with self-care and attention, this journey can be thrilling and powerful. A growth journey can continually challenge what we think we know and believe about the world. It can encourage us to reflect deeply on who we are and it can open doors along the way that allow us to expand and reevaluate what we really want from life. A growth journey pushes us to be ever open-minded, to seek the knowledge that lights our brains up and fuels our passions and interests that we have the luxury to choose for ourselves, as adult learners of the world.
“A commitment to lifelong learning is a natural expression of the practice of living consciously.” – Nathanial Branden
Are many of us truly living to our fullest potential? Are we devoid of limiting beliefs and staring our deepest fears in the face? Or do we find ourselves sticking with the route most trodden, the safe and easy path? That’s the thing about wanting to bloom, isn’t it? We want to rush because the promise of what lies ahead tempts us there but we forget that the journey may last an entire lifetime, that each day we seek to learn something new and get through the ups and downs, is a day we are no longer the same person as the day before. That is growth.
As we approach the end of another year I feel it’s the right time for a pause. There’s little more I can learn from another “chase your dreams” podcast or another “how to conquer your day” blog, but there is much to be gained from deep practice and from looking inward instead of constantly just seeking more. That is the true lesson here and that is the more difficult part of all.