Right out of the gate I’d like to begin this post by saying that change is one of the very few constants that exist. Things and people are constantly shifting, adjusting, migrating, and transforming. These are required activities to remain relevant, stay competitive, or to just stay alive. Unfortunately, this constant moving and shifting of norms present itself as a challenge when there is resistance or inflexibility. My thoughts this week have settled on growth and change, and what happens when you decide to define what that looks like for you and break the mold of learned behaviors and beliefs that you have grown up with.
A significant hurdle that almost everyone will face is trying to change when you are surrounded by people who are stuck. Often, our peer groups, families, or social circles, share and recycle information based on particular belief systems, experiences, and familiarities. This information can be limiting, shared through generations, and seldom ever questioned. They box us in, holding us to traditions that existed as part of the previous generations’ own limitations and fears. Think about how many people in your family have never traveled outside of the country, for no other reason than they are afraid to fly. Or, relatives that refuse to leave the city they were born in, for no other reason than “this is where I’m from”. Never once considering, it will always be where you are from, but it does not have to be all that you represent. Other limitations, like women, should only nurture their families and support their husbands. Essentially creating a system of boundaries so that women will only see themselves in a linear fashion. Or men should never cry or be vulnerable. I know, these are extremes, but my point is, these types of experiences and values can be, and are often damaging, especially when we are trying to grow and chart our own path.
Other times, these systems are imputed upon us by peer groups from childhood. The popular kids, the bully in the group, who was the prettiest, the fastest, etc. These are all part of a system of beliefs and thought structures that exist to define us and create boundaries. Attempting to move away from what has been defined as normal behavior or evolving beyond our peer and family expectations can be viewed as going against the grain or being disrespectful to traditions or social structures. As a result, it can be challenging to find the support you need to successfully adapt to change or to see change as an opportunity and not a loss.
Change requires that you approach it with a sense of openness. Allowing close-minded voices to limit your potential is harmful to your growth. While I understand, that as a child, we don’t have control over the type of information we receive from our environment, as we get older and are able to make decisions about our future, it’s imperative that we are able to differentiate between what helps us and what harms us. Labels are restrictive. Labels are limiting and destructive. Do not allow people to apply them to you. As you desire to move forward, to grow, consider the voices and sources around you. There will always be someone around to question the validity of your transformation and your progress. That opposition increases the more you separate yourself from situations, thoughts, and behaviors that are in contrast to your direction. Learn to separate yourself from those things and practices that do not promote you to moving to your next level.
Your life and your career should be your design. What and how you design, is totally up to you. If you have been surrounded by negative, unproductive people and beliefs, consider what it could be costing you. Could those mental barriers be the reason you are not able to seize opportunities coming your way? Maybe you are responding out of a learned behavior and those responses are attracting energy that keeps you from reaching your next level. Perhaps those belief systems prevent you from having the relationship or attaining the dreams that you have envisioned for yourself. It is all a possibility. Take some time to assess your wants against your values. Do your values promote your aspirations and goals? Do your values allow you to pursue relationships? To dream bigger than your surroundings? Does your peer group stretch you or are you the biggest, most successful, and talented person in your circle?
I understand, our parents and families gave us the best of what they had to offer. But with every generation, we have a responsibility to take it to the next level. We owe them, to try to be and do more. If your circle cannot support you, don’t force the circle to grow. You grow. If the perspective that you’ve had up to this point, can’t handle your trajectory, change your perspective. If you don’t know how; find someone or something to model after. If you cannot see past your current environment, or visualize a future with possibilities, adjust the direction you’re looking in. Develop yourself. Grow your reading list. Find a motivational podcast. Shake things up. Pull away from the group. Head in a different direction.
Trust me, I know…Change is hard. Change can be painful. Change is constant. Change is living.
As hard as it may feel, you can do this. You can be different, better, happier, and free. You don’t need anyone’s permission to get started. Do it now. You already have permission. Just proceed. I believe in you.
As always, these are absolutely my thoughts…