What is personal growth and why does it matter?
Our mental, physical and spiritual capabilities are a reflection of our investment in our own personal growth. The journey starts with the mind. Once your mind is under your control and isn’t an obstruction, you can then bring your physical body and surroundings into alignment. For example, I’m in the best shape of my life now. Not when I was in high school or college or when I was 21, but NOW. It’s because I’ve got enough of a hold on my mind that I know what to eat, when to exercise and how to take care of any low points of energy or lethargy that may show up. I know how to keep operating at peak physical performance because I’ve trained my mind to love that feeling and do everything possible to not succumb to temptations of bad eating or living habits. Once the mind and body become each other’s best friend, you now have created the foundation for an infinite possibility. The World becomes your playground. You have created enough strength and discipline within, that no feat or goal is too big. You have the energy and discipline to conquer anything. If you don’t have the energy or discipline in this moment for a truly monumental goal, you’ll have the tools to create it.
So how will you use your powers? This is where spiritual growth comes in. This is the art of truly knowing oneself and connecting with our higher calling. We all have greatness hidden beneath the surface. Without spiritual growth, we jump from one shiny object to another and then wonder why we still feel a hole in our chest. Why our ‘spirit’ isn’t dancing with joy. Isn’t that what we all want? To live life in boundless joy doing the work we love while serving those around us in a meaningful way. To wake up everyday with a feeling of, “I can’t believe I make a living doing what I do and love it”. It’s all within reach if we take life as a tremendous possibility. If we leave our fears and doubts behind and embrace life fully.
Too many of us choose to sleepwalk and then wonder why we don’t feel alive. It’s not that we don’t know how to have fun. We fill our lives with an endless barrage of activities. We fill our weekends with every sort of activity imaginable — elaborate meals that take hours to prepare but leave us with low energy at the end, random get togethers that suck time and don’t bring meaning to our life or relationships, endless parties that leave us exhausted the next day, endless research on your next gadget or tech project, endless vacation planning for our next ‘escape’ because the here and now just isn’t fun, and then we spend hours glued to the TV or phone everyday and wonder why our closest relationships have become stale etc etc. You get the point. We spend a lot of time doing things we think will make us happy. If you come to think of it, COVID has been a blessing in disguise. It has allowed us some serious time to reflect upon this careless waste of time and resources; that’s if, we’ve chosen to slow down a bit. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we shouldn’t enjoy these things or meet the people that matter to us. It’s just that we spend our time on everyone and everything in the World without prioritizing ourselves and the goals that truly matter to us first. We walk through the World like partially awake zombies from day to day, looking forward to the weekend. We fill our weekend with everything under the sun and then wonder why we don’t feel alive on Monday. Why does life feel stale after doing this same routine in one form or another over and over? There’s a quote which was a wakeup call for me — “Don’t live the same year 50 times and call it a life.”
Once we’ve repeated this cycle enough times, a feeling of dissatisfaction settles in and bubbles up from time to time. It’s our emotions i.e. our soul trying to wake us up. It’s reminding us that we’re not living our life truthfully, doing the things that truly matter. The work that is our calling. And this is why personal growth is critical. Only through an unrelenting focus on personal growth, we can rise to our greatest potential and our highest expression in this life.
Many of us can’t stop contemplating and imagining our retirement. How beautiful it will be. We view retirement as the ultimate salvation when all our suffering will come to an end. Do we ask ourselves why we’re choosing to suffer in the first place? We view retirement as the imaginary juncture in life where we’ll onboard a never ending mega cruise with unlimited buffet and daily pool parties that will forever keep us entertained and joyful so we’ll never have to worry about life again. We’ll have enough money that we don’t need to worry about working again. We’ll never have to deal with a boss or performance reviews again. We’ll have everything we need to be on vacation forever. Advertising and popular culture feeds this mindset further by glorifying this way of living. So we try to earn more by all means necessary, sacrificing our hearts in the way and save what our habits allow for that eventual day of salvation that will hopefully come one day.
If today, you’re working away in drudgery so that one day you can stop working, you’re simply working on the wrong thing. It’s a result of the fact that you haven’t spent the time and effort to discover your purpose in life and follow through. Hence, you seek retirement or some version of it as the eventual escape from your daily drudgery. However, what’s worse is that you’re caught in a psychological paradigm of your own making. Once you get to retirement, you’ll again disappoint yourself. A never ending vacation may sound promising but it can soon feel like a prison where the same song keeps playing over and over. If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you haven’t noticed how the rich and famous (those that lack a purpose in life), often suffer from massive depression and breakdowns. Once you’ve had your 100th beer at the beach in retirement, you’ll wonder what you should do with the rest of your life. Wouldn’t it be better to answer this question now so you can actually use your more healthful years to make a difference?
This is why we must focus on personal growth. To free yourself from the false promise of some future imaginary salvation. You can achieve retirement now only if you take the time to align your time and actions on things that matter most to you. Not work simply for the sake of money to fund your retirement account. But work that increases JOY in your life. Once you start living like life is the most precious gift given to you and start using every moment to live as your true self, the joy you experience now will never be matched by any future imaginary salvation. Do you ever hear Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Richard Branson talk about retirement? They know that everyone is going to retire eventually, in death. Live now!
My sincere wish for you is to awaken the fire of personal growth within you so you too may live life to your greatest potential. May you rise from the mud and let your life bloom like the perfect, fragrant, joyful flower that it’s meant to be. It all starts with conquering your mind and taking the first step to define your personal sunkulp.