Have you arrived? Have you learned everything you need to know in order to lead a successful life? Yeah, right. I think the only people who would boldly answer this with a resounding yes are all the sassy tweens in this world. The rest of us know …
When I was a child, I thought that by the time I was old (and, yes, I truly thought 41 was ancient) I would have learned everything I needed to know. I thought my bank account would be well-padded, my house would be Better Homes & Gardens perfect (because there was no Pinterest back then, girls), I would be married with two kids, a dog and a cat, and I would have arrived. Man, did I ever have it wrong. On so many counts, except for the married with two kids part.
For over three years now I’ve been writing. Sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes only weekly or biweekly. Sometimes the words flow freely and other times it’s like trying to pull taffy … taffy that’s been left sitting on the counter for a week and is no longer soft and pliable.
I’d like to think along the way I have grown as a writer. In fact, looking back to what I wrote even a year ago I know I have. I’m learning to hone in on a single idea, rather than rabbit trail all around a topic without ever coming to a point. I’m also learning when to bend the rules to let my personality show through, how to simplify, cut and edit my words, and lean into the power of the story.
Just like any other skill, it takes practice. It requires the humility to accept advice and constructive criticism. It means searching out the knowledge to continue to improve as a writer, and to listen to those who are gifted in ways I am not.
I find myself always on the lookout for more information on how to be a better writer. If there’s a podcast, I want to listen to it. If there’s a class, I want to take it. I crave knowledge. I never thought I would say only days after my 41st birthday that I hope I never desire to stop learning or that I would spend my hard-earned dollars to take a class that nobody was making me take.
What I’m finding out about this growing process is that it’s frustrating when growth can’t be tangibly measured. And as an adult, there’s very little growth in my life that can be measured with a ruler or a score. (Other than my waistline, and I’d rather not talk about that growing.)
So how does a girl deal with the fact that growth, the growth we want to see in our lives as adults, can no longer be measured with little tick marks in the door frames by our mommas?
How to measure the hard to measure:
- Set a short-term goal. Make sure it’s challenging, but not unattainable. Then break down the steps that will be needed to reach it.
- Learn to note your progress. If you’re taking a class, check off each assignment as you complete them. Or check off each step of your short-term goal. Taking even just a minute to acknowledge achievements can release endorphins that make you happy! It’s been scientifically proven. Science is awesome.
- Reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big reward. Maybe just a Dove chocolate square and an extra cup of coffee is all the reward you need to push you to reach your goals.
- Join a community of people on the same learning journey as yourself. Find a Facebook group of people who are studying what you want to know and exchange information, or learn from people who are a step ahead of you. Engage in the conversation. Be curious.
- Set a long-term goal, too. Short-term goals are great, but they’re just a small part of the big picture. Maybe the short-term goal is to complete a project and the long-term goal is to complete the class. Or maybe the short-term goal is to research seeds for your region to start a garden, and the long-term goal is to plant a garden and preserve your harvest.
- Keep it front and center. Make sure whatever way you are trying to grow yourself in stays in your line of site and is easily accessible. If you’re learning the guitar, give it a home where you’ll see it often. If you’re trying to establish a daily quiet time routine, keep your Bible, notebook and planner where you’ll encounter them first thing in the morning. Set yourself up for success.
- Give yourself grace. One thing I’ve learned about trying to grow is that my life is busy and I have to creatively make time to fit in opportunities to learn and expand my horizons. So I try to remember to give myself spades of grace on the days when I mess up. Because I most definitely will mess up, miss self-imposed deadlines or struggle with lack of motivation.
How do you motivate yourself to keep growing?Sometimes I wish I could get a report card again, just to have a tangible milestone or measure of progress.Click To Tweet