“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Wayne Dyer
Looking at life and its daily challenges can get, well, somewhat challenging. There are goals, of course, some of them lofty and seemingly unattainable, and immediate tasks that must be tended to. There are also many hurdles that pop up at random and others that you know are there to begin with. When faced with an obstacle or thinking about a goal you desire, what’s your approach? Do you go forward or give up?
While it’s not generally thought of as a pathway to growth, the truth is that obstacles and hurdles are as much a part of the growing process as apparent easy wins. What tests you makes you stronger, often serving to motivate during the most difficult times, even summoning courage and determination you didn’t think you possessed.
Growth Depends on Choices
The difference between stagnation and growth lies within you. The outcome, while never certain, depends on the choices you make. And, make no mistake about it, you get to choose. This is both exciting and scary for many people, because they’d rather say they got lucky or what happened was fate or they didn’t really want whatever it was after all. Maybe they figured that whatever success or failure they experienced would go down easier with others — and themselves — if they attributed the outcome to something outside of themselves, as if others were the reason for the win or loss and not them.
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Whether you take advantage of what looks to be an opportunity or decide you’re going to overcome a decidedly formidable hurdle in pursuit of a goal is your choice alone. Others may influence your approach, cheer you on when you falter and applaud your efforts whatever the result turns out to be, but it’s up to you to make the hard (or easy) choices and do the work.
How does this work in practice? Here are a few examples.
Suppose you’re faced with a dilemma about how to discipline your child over some misbehavior that’s gotten him or her in trouble at school or home. Do you ignore it, hoping that the action won’t be repeated? That’s a choice, albeit not a very good one.
Do you sit down with your son or daughter and calmly and lovingly discuss the behavior and offer constructive ways to deal with it? This is also a choice — and an opportunity for you to grow as a parent and to give your child the chance to grow as well. Yes, it is a hurdle and the easy course is to leave it alone. But that won’t produce the result you want, which is a well-adjusted, happy and healthy child. Your choices will help or hinder their growth — and your own.
Another example involves work and a project you’ve just been handed. You feel the apprehension already because you know it’s going to be a real challenge. You may even feel apprehension, worrying that you might not be up to the task. One choice would be to regard it as too big of a hurdle and try to get out of it, citing lack of time, resources, percent of difficulty, financial implications or something else.
Another choice is to resolve to give the project everything you’ve got, working to the best of your ability, stretching your limits and learning a lot about yourself in the process. Your choice, your results. Which path looks the most promising? Which offers a path to growth?
Maybe you haven’t achieved the kind of success you’ve always wanted, or that you’ve had to stifle your dreams due to more pressing obligations. Raising a family, taking care of elderly parents, maintaining a household, overcoming a serious illness or getting out of crippling debt can all exact a toll on what you thought your life would be. This doesn’t mean that you must give up your dreams, however, only that you face some tough choices as to how you’re going to live from this day forward.
Perhaps you’ll need to make some compromises, take a little longer to obtain the degree you seek, parlay your experience into a more lucrative and satisfying position at work or make a career change. If you always wanted a family and are unable to have children, you might consider adopting. In the process of analyzing what options are available to you, keep in mind that the easiest and quickest may not be the most ultimately satisfying. Be prepared to run into obstacles and expect some disappointment along the way. If your dream is one that you ardently want, you’ll find a way to bring it to fruition. In the process, the choices you make every step of the way provide an opportunity for you to grow.
It’s obvious that everything you do, everything that happens in your life affords you the opportunity to grow — depending on the choices you make. Choose wisely so that you may enjoy the endless opportunities to grow.