Traveling Man: Growth, Resiliency and Identity

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I’ve deleted this post a few times. I’ve been writing it for about a month. At one point it was 500 words – I had punched in out in 10 minutes and then sat back and thought, no, this isn’t what I want to say. That happens from time to time.

Maybe it’s because the new year is is a stone’s throw away. Maybe it’s because the holidays came so quickly – I felt like I blinked and they were here. Maybe it’s because I find myself in these conversations often because of my work, but the question I want to pose is what is so bad about change?

In November I wrote about toxic positivity and the importance of holding reality where both positive and negative ideas coexist. If we always focus on the positive, we don’t learn how to adapt and grow with the negatives. The reverse, if we always focus on the negative then celebrating positives is hard and we discredit those successes no matter how big or small they are for us.

There’s nuance to this argument though.

Sometimes you don’t know what that reality is or could be – you don’t know how to imagine it. And if you don’t know how to imagine it in general, then how can you envision a place where your growth isn’t selfish, but inevitable and necessary?

We can ask this question in a few ways and here’s how I ask clients, and lately, myself.

  • why aren’t you allowed to grow?
  • why is it ok for others to grow, but not you?
  • what could it be like to honor and celebrate your growth?
  • what would be so bad about staying the same?
  • what would be good about staying the same?

It’s ok if these questions hit funny and/or you can’t answer them. They came from a conversation with a client when she said it was ok for others to grow and change, but it wasn’t ok for her. This is something that often holds her back – the mindset that it’s selfish to adapt and grow.

If change is the only constant (look at me pulling out all of the motivational quotes of sorts), why do we hold back and prevent ourselves from accepting it?

This isn’t to say that you can’t or shouldn’t get good or better at things you’re currently doing before moving on – you don’t always need to set a goal and sometimes the goal is focusing on the thing you’re already doing. But if the new year excites you and pushes you, then embrace it – don’t feel bad about it.

I have said A LOT of times over the years that I like fresh things. Fresh new notebook, fresh pen, fresh day, week – year. Fresh bread. I do set goals for myself each year, but more than that I’ve created plans to get to where I want to be because the process matters so much. I also create goals throughout the year. I let goals I’ve set at the beginning die or evolve too.

It’s ok for you to not want certain goals anymore. Stopping and accepting that change is also progress, just in a different way.

Something that I did/am doing for this upcoming year is getting multidimensional with my goals. I usually set professional goals or fitness goals – there’s a bit of overlap there, but over this past year as I worked to rediscover old loves, find new ones and give myself a chance to really be me over thought about what makes me feel happy and whole.

And that’s where some of my goals are coming from like more hiking (I haven’t flushed out what more means yet, but I will) or reading a book a month that has nothing to do with work or school. I’m focusing on learning a language, going back to school in May, growing my business and starting with a new company next week. I have ideas and plans in motion for business networking and fun travel and how to maintain my individuality while learning myself in a new relationship.

We can easily get wrapped up in seeing ourselves one way, but the trap there is that it becomes cyclical and we don’t let ourselves really grow. So outside of the labels I use like Coach and lifter and student and girlfriend, I want to see what it feels like to create plans where I get to wear adventurer or wonderer or chef.

What would you focus on if you let yourself change?

What would growth look or feel like for you if you gave yourself a wider lens and let go of the identity that you’ve been holding onto?