In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow here’s a chance to grow.

–Carol Dweck

Physical growth, especially during childhood, is fast and effortless. A typical newborn weighs 6 to 8 lbs at birth, and by 6 months of age they should double their weight. They literally do nothing but eat, sleep, and poop, and they grow. Physical growth as an adult takes quite a bit more work. You must put consistent effort into your nutrition, exercise, and rest in order to see progress. Whether your goal is to run faster and/or farther, jump higher, lift heavier, or just build muscle – you are aware (or should be) that it will take time, and the effort you put is relative to the results that come out.

What about personal growth? Mental growth? Are you consistently seeking new information, new experiences, or new boundaries? It feels as though we are so caught up on what we can see on the surface and what we have been told, that we fail to conduct our own research, our own development, or our own opinions even. When is the last time you read a book? When is the last time you researched something that interested you, simply for the sake of learning? Or, researched a topic so that you were better informed, rather than using Facebook as your ‘source’?

Structure and schedules are great tools to keep you organized and stress free, but they can also inhibit your personal growth if you refuse to do anything outside your comfort zone. Take it from someone who knows… I used to be thrown into a panic if I had to rearrange my running or lifting schedule – as if there would be dire consequences to training legs on Tuesday rather than my normal routine of Wednesday. Think about college – there are no assigned seats, yet everyone sits in the same seat every day. Don’t pretend you’ve never been mad at someone for sitting in your imaginary assigned seat.

Human behavior typically falls along a spectrum between sensation-seeking & goal-striving personalities to ‘creatures of habit’ who live through automatic, habitual responses. There are benefits and risks to both sides; if you are on the sensation-seeking side, you may be compulsive and unable to resist temptations and cravings. Conversely, habits can involve doing behaviors or tasks that are repeated so automatically that you basically run through life on “autopilot” without any cognitive challenge. Goal striving personalities base their behavior on the perceived consequences of the actions they are considering and are less likely to let outside factors take over control. These are the people who continue marching on towards their goals no matter what life throws them. ‘Creatures of Habit’  have designed their lives to be as efficient as possible while also avoiding anxiety that can come from being in uncertain or new environments. This behavior also allows them to avoid temptations and urges.

Despite what you may think, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Habits, though they may feel impossible, can be changed. You can teach yourself to incorporate a new activity or hobby every day; you can choose to introduce new foods or spices or remove food that is unhealthy. You can alter your training schedule. You can start a new job or move to a new city. Your growth is only limited to you.

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