One of the biggest differences between people is their willingness to learn and grow. Very few people will own up to allowing their life to become stagnant, but it is an easy trap into which we can fall. We stop growing, and life becomes boring, stale, and mundane.
Growth should be a lifelong process. Too often, it becomes a season in our life instead of a lifestyle. Sometimes we do not recognize when we stopped growing. Growth must be intentional, or stagnation will become common.
There are specific times in our life when we tend to cruise and relax our efforts to grow. Each of these times affects us differently based on our approach. My goal here is to get you to be aware that there are some specific times in your life when growth is challenging. These are my 5 Thursday Thoughts.
High School Graduation
High school graduation is one of those events that almost everyone anticipates. It is usually part of the highlight reel of our life. It is not unusual for students to arrive at the end of their high school career and be exhausted from learning. They have spent the previous 18 years in a learning environment from daycare to preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. After that amount of time, they just don’t feel like learning anymore. Statistics say 33% of high school graduates never read another book after graduation. When adulting starts, learning tends to end.
If the statistics about reading for high school graduates is surprising, it is even higher for college graduates. 42% of college graduates never read another book for the balance of their lives. That is close to half of all college graduates. The danger at college graduation is not exhaustion but abundance. We have sharpened some of the broad knowledge we received in high school. Usually, we have a focus or a major, so there is at least one area where we think we know everything. The real danger is that we believe we know everything about everything. A new college graduate is one of the cockiest beings you can encounter. Don’t allow your abundance of knowledge to keep you from learning the critical things in life you need.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. But there is no institution around that is more likely to find itself in a rut than a marriage. Spouses quickly take each other for granted. The test of growth in marriage is that we become dependent on the other person to make us into what we are supposed to be. We become dependent on them for what we lack instead of growing into the person who changes. We wait on them to fill in the blanks of our lives instead of seeking our answers.
As we get older and our income rises, most people arrive at a place of financial security. They reach an income level that meets their needs, and they have money to enjoy extra things. They get comfortable and complacent. This position is not the same as contentment. Contentment finds peace in any situation. Comfortable and complacent settles into a certain situation for the long haul. The danger with financial freedom is we think we have arrived. If we have arrived, there is nowhere else to go or grow.
Retirement is the last roadblock to growth we are going to address. There may be other places later in life that are challenging to moving forward, but retirement is certainly one of the last ones. The danger in retirement is we think we are through, so there is no need to grow. Retirement can bring feelings of loneliness and uselessness. Those emotions only feed the tendency to stop growing. Retirement is only the end of a season, not the end of your life.
Don’t allow common barriers to keep you from growing your entire life. Be intentional about opening new places in your life that allow your mind to expand and your life to flourish. Lifelong learners are the most effective people on the planet.