With each passing year, I can’t help but ponder about the age-old question of “Am I wiser or just older with time?” I would like to believe that I am growing wiser or just a little more grown up with time.
Growing old and growing up are very different. The outcome or result is clear for all to see. One of it does not involve any choice or thought but the other requires discipline, focus and hard work. One demonstrates matured judgment and decision-making while the other is like a life living in a time capsule making decisions and handling situations as a 20-year-old when you are a 40-year-old.
Growing old happens to everyone whether we like it or not. We don’t have a choice. Let me just say that your body grows, peaks and then its all downhill from there on. I wish I was kidding but we know the reality of this life. We start out being helpless like a baby and we pretty much end in the same condition except not as cute.
Growing Up on the other hand is entirely in our hands. It is based on the choices, decisions and actions that we take. The choice to learn, to change our words, thoughts and actions for the better and to contribute to others. The growing up that we need to do is centered around our emotional and mental aspects.
Keys to Growing Up
1. Learning never stops: The awareness and curiousity to want to explore, take risk, get out of your comfort zone and experience what life has to offer. The intentional focus on to continually learn and grow not just in knowledge but also in experience. You must have the desire to always want to improve and be better. Not satisfied with the comfort zone.
2. Tough decisions: There are moments when the hard and tough decisions must be made. Short vs. Long term moments that will define your next steps. Tough decisions will always involve deliberation and not just emotionally charge decision-making process. To be able to see all angles and different views before deciding are required. To have the courage to make the decision and not to avoid. The courage to make a stand even if it is not popular.
3. Sacrifices must be made: Along with making the tough decisions, sacrifices will have to be made to achieve what we want. Nothing comes on a silver platter, to achieve anything worthwhile, hard work and sacrifices are required. What are you willing to sacrifice? A student must sacrifice certain activities if they want to achieve academic excellence. An employee must sacrifice some “home” time if they want to climb the corporate ladder. A professional athlete must sacrifice a lot to be an Olympian.
4. Growing up is a choice: We are all given choices in this life. We either choose to grow up or just cruise in life. We choose to either be a giver or taker in this life. We choose who to befriend and spend time with. Life is full of choices and the choices that we make will result in the person that we become. Therefore, to be mature or wise is a choice. We choose to learn from our mistakes, failures, success and difficulties in the life so that we become smarter, stronger, wiser and more resilient. We choose to accept responsibilities or blame others. We choose how we want to grow up.
5. Practice makes permanence: That’s right, practice makes permanence and NOT perfect. No matter how long and hard I practice my golf, it will be “my” golf swing and never the “perfect” golf swing. The permanence of my golf swing becomes muscle memory and in an ideal situation, I would be swinging without thinking too much about it. Life is a series of practices. We are in a constant motion of practicing what we do until it becomes a habit or permanent routine. Our minds are wired to be lazy and hence once a habit is formed, we will just follow it. We must be conscious of our habits and thoughts and know that we can change those that we want to with a deliberate and purposeful decision and actions that follow.
6. Commitment to growth: We need to be committed to the growth process. This ties in with the learning mindset. We must be committed to growing up and not just growing old.
Signs you are growing old and NOT growing up
1. You are self-focus: Your view of your role in this world is centered around you and you only. It’s all about ME. Much like a child, you only want what you want, and you want it now. It does not matter to you what the cost is to those around you or to the much greater environment that you live in.
2. Instant gratification: The way in which you respond to situations or people around you demonstrate that it is all about getting what you want NOW. It is about getting rich, fast. Getting to where you want to go, Now. Desiring whatever you see, Now. There is no long-term thought process. It is all about achieving short-term needs.
3. Taking people for granted: You don’t show or appreciate people around you. You consider them as a necessary means to an end when you need them. You have yet to learn to appreciate and love people. You do not value relationships and connections beyond using them to achieve your goals.
4. Always comparing never achieving: You are always driven by comparing what you have e.g. house, car, job, money, holidays etc. with others and never being contend. You have not learned that it is not about what you possess but it’s about how you impact others. Life is about giving and making a difference and not an accumulation of things that you can never take with you when you die.
5. Taking and Never Giving: You are always expecting people to give to you. You are always taking from people around you and never giving anything in return. You are not sharing what you have. You are certainly not giving a thought to someone in need. It is all about what you can get for yourself.
Time to take stock
It is always good to take stock of where you are. Self-awareness is an important attribute to have. It requires an honest and open reflection of yourself. Know who you are and what you are here to accomplish. Ask yourself:
• Am I growing in experience and knowledge?
• What improvements do I see from the decisions that I am making?
• Are people coming to me to ask for advice?
• How do I view my purpose in my family, workplace and the greater world? Am I fulfilling it?
• What am I doing to learn more?
• Am I challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone?
There is no better time than now to decide to continually grow up and not just let time dictate your growing old.