“Cheers to Growth”

“Think I’m going to get myself happy.

I think there’s something you should know

I think it’s time I told you so

There is something deep inside of me.

There is something else I’ve got to be.”

-George Michael, “Freedom”-

How many of you have made a resolution on New Year’s Day and failed? You might be like me, and personally never make a resolution. I despise the societal expectation that a ball dropping at midnight is going to make me suddenly resolve to participate in a triathlon, volunteer 20 hours a week, read 4 books a week, eat 100% healthy, climb Mt. Everest, be a perfect partner, learn 30 new things… the list goes on. I do not like New Year’s Resolutions or the concept that we all are going to suddenly become so perfect the next year we will be featured as one of Barbara Walter’s “20 Most Interesting People of Given Year.” I am a firm believe in setting yourself up for success and think the looming absolute of resolutions demand unattainable perfection. We are imperfect creatures doing the best we can moving through life. This year, however, I am breaking my own unwritten rule and embracing a new resolution trend. I have chosen to embrace the concept of a one word resolution and incorporate in into my everyday of 2017.  Link for this concept is here: http://myoneword.org/

Choosing a solitary word, and a needed paradigm shift of a new year is difficult task for me. I will openly share that 2016 was not my best year. 2016 could be summed up with various (negative) words: challenge, loss, shame, isolation, difficulty, heartache, denial, and struggle. I went into the year simply just wanting a difficult end of 2015 to end. Optimistically hoping for a new number to bring good tidings. Serious reflecting on what word I wanted to embrace to better myself for 2017 brought some ugly truth in the mirror of self-reflection. The reality was (is) I need(ed) a serious attitude adjustment if I’m going to make the personal and professional strides I aspire to have. I never would have told a student in distress to carry a bitter pill around a boulder sized chip on their shoulder. I always used to state, ” How can I help you? What can we learn from this?”

A’Ha moment.

Learning means growing as a person. Without personal growth, I’m not setting myself up to be successful in the future. In order for 2017 to end with a more glowing list of words, I need to be asking myself, “how can I help myself, what am I learning from this, how can I grow from this?” I need to challenge myself to grow in 2017.

You may ask, how does a person challenge themselves to grow? How does this make sense in everyday practical life?

My personal definition of growth is reflecting versus internalizing challenges without guilt. (The without guilt part is going to be a struggle for as a devout perfectionist.) In essence, reflecting on learned behavior is a cornerstone of bloodstream education and should be simplified into personal learning. Universities look at retention numbers, budgets, academic assessments, and analyze all date in order to grow into a more successful institution for the next year. Personal growth is also indicative of personal “data” we all store and gather daily. I am going to have analyze simpler things in my life to set myself up to be successful. Was I irritable all day because I stayed up late binge watching Netflix? Notice a pattern of depression around certain days, when exercise took a back seat, or a connection with a friend wasn’t a priority? These little things we don’t think matter, well I am here to tell you folks, they do!

My personal concept of growth is the following:

  • Growth, like healing, is not linear. It is not perfect, absolute, or 100% measurable.
  • Growth can mean being more assertive with my needs.
  • Growth can be taking critical feedback as a building block for character growth (and to not internalize as shame.)
  • Growth is making daily meditation and reflection a priority.
  • Growth is only engaging in personal relationships that are healthy and mutual.
  • Growth is openly owning that I struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and that makes me real-not a bad, flawed person.
  • Growth is sharing when the above struggles are resonating, and not secluding myself.
  • Growth is unplugging when I need to for my own self care.
  • Growth is as simple as reminding myself I’m worthy of self care.
  • Growth is challenging myself to not take everything personally.
  • Growth is knowing when I am hiding in my work by working too much, and taking a step back –guilt free.
  • Growth is taking a possible negative interaction and trying to focus on how you can change your role for the better next time.
  • Growth is being curious and finding out answers.
  • Growth is being a better friend to myself.
  • Growth is evolving.
  • Growth is analyzing my own “data” to help set more positive patterns.
  • Growth is admitting insecurities and trying to learn the root cause of them.
  • Growth is asking myself how can I help myself. Seriously!

Growth is ongoing and does not take the place of goals. I have many personal goals I choose to aspire to achieve. (I’m a huge fan of SMART or Stretch goals.) These goals include: competing in the half marathon I selected this Spring, finalizing decision for future master’s degree programs/potential move locations by July, finishing binge watching The Walking Dead, reading a few selected books, working to add strength training to my running routine, work on fixing my blog, sing up for 5 speaking engagements, and monitoring my sleep habits (like data) for a healthier mindset. Goals can be daily, on lists, large scale and I can see where personal growth can help one actually achieve these goals.

I often reread certain books that have had positive effects on my life, and that I continuously learn from. (I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee once a year for 20 years now!) I recently reread “Rising Strong” by Dr. Brene Brown Can view book here on Good Reads and it further moved me to encourage growth. I wrap this up with this quote as I attribute personal growth very much to the rumble phase.

“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”   (Rising Strong, 2015.)

We cannot control what happens to us, we cannot deny it. How will you reflect this year to get to a place of growth? Instead of a New Year’s challenge, would you be willing to ask yourself “what do I want to learn this year?” What does personal growth look to you? Do you have a one word resolution that resonates with you? What word would you like 2017 to represent next New Year’s Eve?

Cheers, Peace, Love, Reflection, Growth, and Well Wishes to you all for 2017.

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