I am now on my third month of my resolution to invest in growth, both in my personal growth and in the world around me. Here are a few things I have learned:
1.Investments come in all shapes and sizes. I was a bit worried about investing in growth this year because my budget is tighter right now than normal and my life has been pretty chaotic lately. There are a few things, like purchasing a news subscription, that I have decided to hold off on. BUT, I have realized that there are so many things we can do to invest in ourselves and the world around us that cost nothing or can even save us money. I have enjoyed consuming a more plant-based diet, simplifying my cosmetic/beauty ritual with more versatile and ethical products like shampoo bars, purchasing re-usable products rather than disposable ones, learning new things through Youtube and Netflix, and becoming more politically active. I know that when I do have more flexibility in my budget again, I will be able to save more money because of these budget-cutting changes.
2. Not everyone gets on board. I’ve shared a lot of my changes with friends and family, with varied results. I’ve had one person ask me why I would shop at a co-cop or farmer’s market when Kroger was so much cheaper. I tried to explain that I shop healthier there and purchase less junk food and less meat, so I actually save money, both literally and in healthcare costs down the road. Got a blank look from that one. I’ve shared some Facebook links encouraging a call to action that got very minimal responses. (Having worked for a nonprofit before, I expected that.) But, sharing information isn’t so much for all the people who don’t respond as for the people who DO find the information useful or inspiring. That makes it worth it.
3. You learn what people DO want to invest in. For all the moments I thought people would respond and they didn’t, there were some that surprised me, like the time I shared the $10/month Mighty Fix subscription I bought back in September and got a HUGE response with tons of comments and even people texting me for more information. Another time, I asked for documentary recommendations for me to watch so I could learn new things and got so many responses I still haven’t watched them all. So, sometimes the things people do get involved with can surprise you.
4. Perfectionism is a thing. Because so much of what I am doing involves self-improvement, I do sometimes feel a little hypocritical when I fall short of my own expectations. I eat fast food with a client about once or twice a week and I am still beating back an insatiable sweet tooth daily. I’ve been wanting to reduce my trash, but have thrown away a lot of trash lately since I’ve been cleaning out my house. I’ve found myself questioning things I say or how I present myself if it isn’t “growth-oriented” and have to remind myself to invest in self-care and authenticity, too. I’ve second-guessed a few purchases that were not the most ethical or the most prudent choices. When these things happen, I just try to remind myself that growth is not linear. The important thing, I think, is not to restrict ourselves or think about what we “should” be doing but rather to enjoy the process of growth and to realize all the ways our lives are enriched by making positive changes.
5. Growth is a mindset, not a temporary change. There is actually a wonderful book that goes into this in much more detail by Carol Dweck. In this process, I have realized that it is not so much about the physical changes I am making, though they have certainly been impactful to me, but in nourishing my ability to affect change in myself and to share that with others. It’s had a huge impact on my perceived self-efficacy. Things like learning new facts that have completely blown my mind, getting responses to emails I have sent out to political leaders, having people contact me to ask questions about changes I am making, figuring out simpler ways to perform everyday tasks- those things have made me realize that investing in growth is a lifestyle change that could potentially have ripple effects within myself and maybe even in my community as well. It’s that realization, even more than the actual changes, that has had a huge impact on my outlook in life.