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Growth is a choice

By Jessica Allen | Life

Jun 10
growth is a choice | personal growth | lobster graphic

You can’t change the world until you change yourself. And change through personal growth is the most necessary, challenging, time-intensive, intentional, and fulfilling work there is. (Not surprisingly, all the elbow-grease required is why so many people are afraid to dig into this kind of personal work.  It’s like going to the gym – it doesn’t work if you blitz hard on 1 day and then sit on the couch for the following 364.)

Read, listen, learn, ask questions, step forward, make mistakes, apologize, get up, and try again – with double the determination. Once you accept the truth that you are going to blow it (over and over), it makes the idea of failing forward a little less paralyzing and even… a little exciting.  Because when you mess up, you learn, and the more you learn, the stronger and better you get.  

2 beautiful benefits of personal growth

Wanna know a beautiful thing about growth? You can literally be a better version of yourself every single passing moment. What you thought, said, or did even five minutes ago has no hold on you when you’re constantly evolving into the person you’re meant to be.

Wanna know the MOST beautiful thing about growth? It doesn’t live in a vacuum. When you know better, you’ll do better, and you’ll spill out what you’ve learned onto and into the people and spaces around you. When you change yourself, it will also change your family, your work, your mission, your vision, and your future… and those things are all attached to other people too.

I love my people enough to spend the time learning from wise voices in order to soften my own edges and sharpen my own iron. I believe so much in how interconnected we are that I’ll keep challenging my own comfortable thoughts and behaviors, because I want to be useful to God and his work in the world.  I want to be rock-solid in my convictions and flexible in my methods because any good change and influence has to come from awareness and LOVE.

Growth requires a rumble

If there is anything in your heart holding you back from love, it needs examination. It’s worth the wrestle.  We’re not supposed to be the same from age 18 until age 100.  Aging is guaranteed – but growth and change are a choice.  Do you think differently about something today than you did a year ago?  GOOD.  It means you’re learning.  Do you think differently about big ideas than your family of origin, your nuclear family, or your extended family?  GREAT.  It means you’re uniquely positioned to keep tricky conversations going and model grace and courage in the process. 

Or, do you have no idea what you actually think/believe in the first place?  EVEN BETTER.  This means you have a new-as-a-born-baby opportunity to open your mind, start at ground zero, and shape your own ideas.  Pull in trusted voices; they are the ones writing, speaking, leading, teaching, and likely not sharing inflammatory content or ripping other people apart on social media.  Journal.  Ask hard questions of yourself.  Press on your beliefs, especially the ones you’ve never really examined recently (or ever, in your adult life). 

The longer you’ve held onto an idea, the harder it can feel to let it go if it’s time to do so. 

Lobsters (yes, lobsters)

Here’s a little nature story, because we really are all interconnected:

Did you know lobsters have to shed their shells as they grow?  They get uncomfortable in their too-small shell, crawl under a rock, molt out of the shell, absorb water and expand their bodies, and produce a new shell.  Lobsters do this about 25 times until fully grown. Constant growing, shedding, recreating.

This is how humans grow, too.  We’re nudged to the point of discomfort by events, ideas, people, or the holy spirit. 

But what happens to us next, unlike lobsters, is optional.

We can write the discomfort off as inconvenience or irritation, and continue as if nothing happened. 

OR

We can choose to pause, step back, learn and process, and then… we grow.  

So the discomfort you feel in your own skin goes far beyond inconvenience or irritation.  It’s a literal invitation to cast off an old way of thinking and expand into a more evolved version of yourself. 

Also, once you shed the old shell, there’s no way you can squeeze back in.   You can’t unlearn what you know now, and you can’t unlive what you just experienced. 

This showing up for your own life.

Showing up for growth isn’t easy, but it’s simple

Showing up for my own life is more simple than I want to believe.  I don’t have to have all the answers, or do any of it right the first time.  I literally just have to show up and be willing to try.

And when I show up for my own life, with my mind and heart open, and a spirit of willingness, I get to trust that every step I take will bring me to a place where I can see the next step after that.  I get to believe that each particular piece of the process is teaching me everything I need to learn before I get to go further. 

Or, you can stay in the same shell your entire life, if you choose.  Nobody is going to make you change.  (Case in point: women have been trying to change men from the dawn of civilization and it does not work.)

Growth is hard.  But it’s way more exciting, more promising, more rewarding, and more full of potential than staying comfortable could ever be. 

Show up for your own life.  Be willing.  That’s all it takes.   

HP,

J

You can’t change the world until you change yourself. And change through personal growth is the most necessary, challenging, time-intensive, intentional, and fulfilling work there is. (Not surprisingly, all the elbow-grease required is why so many people are afraid to dig into this kind of personal work.  It’s like going to the gym – it doesn’t work if you blitz hard on 1 day and then sit on the couch for the following 364.)

Read, listen, learn, ask questions, step forward, make mistakes, apologize, get up, and try again – with double the determination. Once you accept the truth that you are going to blow it (over and over), it makes the idea of failing forward a little less paralyzing and even… a little exciting.  Because when you mess up, you learn, and the more you learn, the stronger and better you get.  

Wanna know a beautiful thing about growth? You can literally be a better version of yourself every single passing moment. What you thought, said, or did even five minutes ago has no hold on you when you’re constantly evolving into the person you’re meant to be.

Wanna know the MOST beautiful thing about growth? It doesn’t live in a vacuum. When you know better, you’ll do better, and you’ll spill out what you’ve learned onto and into the people and spaces around you. When you change yourself, it will also change your family, your work, your mission, your vision, and your future… and those things are all attached to other people too.

I love my people enough to spend the time learning from wise voices in order to soften my own edges and sharpen my own iron. I believe so much in how interconnected we are that I’ll keep challenging my own comfortable thoughts and behaviors, because I want to be useful to God and his work in the world.  I want to be rock-solid in my convictions and flexible in my methods because any good change and influence has to come from awareness and LOVE.

If there is anything in your heart holding you back from love, it needs examination. It’s worth the wrestle.  We’re not supposed to be the same from age 18 until age 100.  Aging is guaranteed – but growth and change are a choice.  Do you think differently about something today than you did a year ago?  GOOD.  It means you’re learning.  Do you think differently about big ideas than your family of origin, your nuclear family, or your extended family?  GREAT.  It means you’re uniquely positioned to keep tricky conversations going and model grace and courage in the process. 

Or, do you have no idea what you actually think/believe in the first place?  EVEN BETTER.  This means you have a new-as-a-born-baby opportunity to open your mind, start at ground zero, and shape your own ideas.  Pull in trusted voices; they are the ones writing, speaking, leading, teaching, and likely not sharing inflammatory content or ripping other people apart on social media.  Journal.  Ask hard questions of yourself.  Press on your beliefs, especially the ones you’ve never really examined recently (or ever, in your adult life). 

The longer you’ve held onto an idea, the harder it can feel to let it go if it’s time to do so. 

Here’s a little nature story, because we really are all interconnected:

Did you know lobsters have to shed their shells as they grow?  They get uncomfortable in their too-small shell, crawl under a rock, molt out of the shell, absorb water and expand their bodies, and produce a new shell.  Lobsters do this about 25 times until fully grown. Constant growing, shedding, recreating.

This is how humans grow, too.  We’re nudged to the point of discomfort by events, ideas, people, or the holy spirit. 

But what happens to us next, unlike lobsters, is optional.

We can write the discomfort off as inconvenience or irritation, and continue as if nothing happened. 

OR

We can choose to pause, step back, learn and process, and then… we grow.  

So the discomfort you feel in your own skin goes far beyond inconvenience or irritation.  It’s a literal invitation to cast off an old way of thinking and expand into a more evolved version of yourself. 

Also, once you shed the old shell, there’s no way you can squeeze back in.   You can’t unlearn what you know now, and you can’t unlive what you just experienced. 

This showing up for your own life.

It’s more simple than I want to believe.  I don’t have to have all the answers, or do any of it right the first time.  I just have to show up.

And when I show up for my own life, with my mind and heart open, and a spirit of willingness, I get to trust that every step I take will bring me to a place where I can see the next step after that.  I get to believe that each particular piece of the process is teaching me everything I need to learn before I get to go further. 

Or, you can stay in the same shell your entire life, if you choose.  Nobody is going to make you change.  (Case in point: women have been trying to change men from the dawn of civilization and it does not work.)

Growth is hard.  But it’s way more exciting, more promising, more rewarding, and more full of potential than staying comfortable could ever be. 

Show up for your own life.  Be willing.  That’s all it takes.   

HP,

J

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About the Author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.

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