As we live in search of our purpose on this spinning rock, it can be difficult to define our growth. In our early years, our growth can be pretty literal. Physical growth and cognitive development can be measured very efficiently through the years by simply going to school and visiting the doctor annually. After we leave the educational system and reach our physical maturity then, our systems of measurement become more nebulous. Our definition of personal growth may change as we mature.
Out of college, I measured my growth externally through my career trajectory and my bank account. These were tangible measures that I and society could easily define. My personal growth was measured against those around me and by a perception of where I should be at that age. Although convenient, I found these measures to be demotivating. The problem with using personal growth measures that required external comparisons meant that I was always chasing something more. In other words, I wasn’t the most successful person I knew, and I definitely did not have the largest bank account. I also wasn’t the least successful or poorest, but that didn’t matter because my need was to be on top. One could say I was fixed on comparing myself to others rather than focusing on what mattered to me.
As I have matured in life, I have found that external growth measures did not suit me as they did for others because I tended to focus on where I did not measure up while forgetting to celebrate my relative success. A shift in mindset was needed for me to find some satisfaction.
I began to focus on my mindset to allow myself to not just acknowledge my wins but to learn how it is the journey to achievement that matters most. The achievements themselves may happen or not, but I began to find more value in my ability to adapt, accept, and grow. Overcoming my fears, surviving unplanned change, and finding opportunities in the situation felt more satisfying.
I began to accept my role in how I felt and that a simple shift in perspective could make a huge difference in my outlook. Finding gratitude every day is one of those shifts. In my early years, I could not acknowledge what was going right when I focused on how I compared to others. I wasn’t growing. I was racing others who weren’t racing me. Now, my growth process is in recognizing what I have learned and what I will learn next. Recognizing every day all of the gifts that exist around me is an important part of that growth. It isn’t an accident that the OAK Journal asks you to write down what you are grateful for daily. Although it may seem mundane and repetitive to some, it is a ritual that will change your personal outlook. Challenge yourself to find new things to be grateful for every day. That simple ritual done consistently will change your perspective.