We’ve all seen some version of the meme that shows a picture of what we envision the path to success looks like next to one that shows what it actually looks like. The imagined version is a nice steady straight line slanted upwards when, in reality, success is achieved over a much longer period of time and full of twists and turns. We laugh when we see this because we know it’s true for success and for all self-development we’ve embarked upon to this point. Though the path may not always be smooth and easy, it doesn’t mean there’s no way to grow. In fact, growth occurs many times because of the twists and turns. This is where we stretch ourselves, practice resiliency, and learn what we are really capable of.
I’m not saying that in order for a self-development journey to be truly transformational it has to be unbearably difficult. I’m saying sometimes things don’t go as planned and that there is beauty and growth in those places too. So, what exactly does a self-development journey look like?
I’m so glad you asked. It really is a series of ups and downs and some surprises. It’s not all chaos though, there are fairly predictable waypoints you’ll reach. Let’s go!
WayPoints for a Self-Development Journey
It all starts here. You make the decision to change. You either know what you’re doing is no longer working for you or you have decided that as nice as life is right now, you want something different. As said in the Tao Te Ching, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This is that step. It’s the very beginning of the journey. Be it a grand proclamation or a quiet understanding, there is no journey without the decision to embark.
Waypoint 1: At this point you are ridding yourself of old things. Here you recognize what has ended or what needs to end and you proceed to move through that ending. It seems counterintuitive that one of the early steps in this journey is an ending but without getting clear on what has transpired, you can’t move forward with purpose. It’s not uncommon to feel down in this place, to feel that you have limited choices. You may spend awhile here recovering, grieving, or otherwise gaining some closure and sorting things out. Allow the closure and then move on.
Waypoint 2: Here you are evaluating what is important to you so that you can determine the next path to take. You’ll figure out what you truly value in life and how you want to align your next steps with those values. You’re nearly ready to act at this point but don’t rush to action. This foundation stage is critical for determining your direction. There will be some peaks and valleys here but stay along for the ride.
Waypoint 3: Now is the time for action. This is a long stage. You start to move, you put your plans into action, and you do the regular, deliberate work of making the changes you seek. You put yourself into new situations and you are likely meeting tons of new people as your world expands. You are surrounded by new ideas and you try many of them on looking for a good fit. Some will fit beautifully and become part of who you are from here on out. Others will be ill-fitting and you will leave them behind, you may even feel they set you back a little. Nevertheless, keep going!
Waypoint 4: You awaken to a new you. It will have been a slow process but one day you will look back and see all that you have done and be awed by who you have become. You’ll also notice how different the path looked compared to what you had envisioned. From here, you’ll start the next leg of your journey with its own waypoints, peaks, and valleys.
Self-development is a lifetime journey. One that allows you to refine who you are and how you live over time.
What needs to come to you will come in its own time. As the saying goes, “The only reason for time is so everything doesn’t happen at once.”
Where are you on your own journey?