How to make space for growth

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I talk a lot about growth, for one very good reason: I think a lot about growth.

Whether it’s personal growth or business growth, I think that it is such an important aim for all of us to keep growing, keep changing and, hopefully, keep improving ourselves.

Let’s have a look at growth, why it’s important, why it’s hard sometimes, what happens if we don’t grow, and then finally how to clear space for our own growth.

Why is growth important for humans?

One of the main reasons why growth is important for us, is that it’s actually about us, that is, all of us. How we interact with other people, how other people treat us, and what we expect from other people, can all be affected by how much we grow, or don’t grow.

That’s also why, unfortunately sometimes, we outgrow people around us. And also, sometimes, they outgrow us.

Often we need to grow in order to fully appreciate our place in the world, and to fully appreciate our own value. We are all the result of our environment, our upbringing, our family, and all of the stories that revolve around that, whether we tell those stories, or they are told about us.

Personal growth can also be very motivating. Once we are able to see, or feel, or do, something that we couldn’t before, to continue that growth can become very intoxicating. We can feel more and more motivated and inspired to keep moving forward, keep trying new things, keep growing.

Growth equals excitement and, in most cases, increased happiness. Sometimes during that growth, it can feel very uncomfortable and not much fun at all, but in most cases if we can persevere through that discomfort, there is something worthwhile on the other side of that growth.

Growth also allows different people, things, and energies into our lives that would otherwise never have been included. It can open us up to new ideas, different people and friend groups, and crazy new opportunities you never even imagined before.

We start to think more about what could be, as opposed to what can never be. 

Why is growth hard for humans?

All of that sounds great, so why isn’t everyone concerned with growth then?

Because, apart from all of that great stuff that growth brings, it can also be really hard. It can mean leaving behind people, places and things forever. It can mean changing the way that you have always thought – and been taught – since you were a child. And it can mean that some people in our lives are exposed to us as being forces that are actually limiting us, instead of encouraging us to be the best version of ourselves.

Growth can be hard because our reason for growing isn’t aligned with our method for growth. You might have an argument with someone, decide that they are not good for your life and also decide that you are going to just grow away from them, but then you might not do that in the most mature and healthy way (maybe lashing out or belittling them to others). That might actually get you clear from them in your life, but it might not mean you have grown in a healthy way very much.

Growth can be hard because you might just not be ready to grow yet. I know that seems kind of counter-intuitive, but in some ways, you do need your ‘ducks in a row’ before any effective growth can be achieved. Those ‘ducks’ might be your relationships, your income, your home, your education, and so on. As desirable as growth can be, it also still requires some planning and hard work, there is no silver bullet.

Growth can be hard when we are impatient. I know what this can be like: you hear a motivational or inspirational speaker get up on stage at a conference you are at, you feel like they are speaking straight to you, they implore you to change, and you can see your future grown self in that instant. You rush home from the conference, clear out your fridge, change your clothes, rearrange your home, dump your boyfriend, and quit your job all in about an hour. And then what?

Patience, as weird as it sounds, is the key to growth. Being methodical and logical and considered and smart about making changes, means those changes are more likely to be permanent and healthy ones.

And growth can be hard when we are not 100% committed to it. Eventually, if you want real change in your life, and you really want to grow, you have got to be all-in. It’s not just about your food, or your clothes, or your partner, or your job. It’s kind of all those things. 

Your behaviours have to change. Your words and actions have to change. Your limiting beliefs have to be changed, or at least be considered. You can’t have a massive effort for a week and then do nothing about it ever again. Unfortunately change takes time (like all good things). 

What happens if we don’t grow?

As the saying goes, if nothing changes, nothing changes. Once you identify the need for change and growth in your life, it’s very hard to un-see it again.

The truth, really, is that from the day we are born, we are designed to start – and continue – growing. Sure, the physical growth might last just for the first quarter or so of our lives, but the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth can continue on for our whole lives.

If it doesn’t, we risk being that adolescent version of ourselves forever. Which is fine, until you are required to be an adult and have adult reactions to things and other people. This is where we can often become unstuck. 

And if we are not growing as humans, we can’t very well expect other humans in our lives to grow and mature either. As I said in the start of this post, our growth affects other people’s growth, more than we know. 

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I want, I might, I will.

How to clear space for growth.

So how do we clear some space for that growth? 

We first have to consider the things that are taking up our space, filling our bandwidth currently, that might impede our growth.

Is something stopping us from growing?

Are you thinking you are too old, too young, too fat, too thin? Is there a reason why you haven’t started your growth yet? Is your personal income a mitigating reason for your not chasing your true purpose in life? Do you feel too comfortable?

By thinking about what things might be holding you back, you are actually shining a light on the things that are, perhaps, the easiest things to change in order for you to grow.

This is the first place to start clearing out the clutter. Just like when you are renovating and thinking about knocking down an entire wall, but you have to check first if that wall is load-bearing and a a structural necessity, you can start to look at what things can be removed from your life, without the whole thing falling apart. 

And then once you have identified the things that you both want to remove from your life, and which of those can be removed without too much disruption or pain, commit to removing them. You will be amazed how much cleared and easier everything else after that can be once you remove the barriers to your growth which may have been there for quite some time.

Is somewhere holding us back?

It’s also true that geography can play a part in our lack of growth. I’m not just referring to living in a small town, or being isolated from opportunities because you are not living in the middle of a thriving city. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Depending on our surroundings, we might have everything a bit too easily. You might not have to grow too much because in the home you are living in now, you are not required really to help or change or grow. Or it might be that you know if you were in another place on Earth, you would be more likely to move forward and change and chase your purpose, so you instead have stayed put in a place where you are not confronted with that challenge every day.

Either way, none of those things are very healthy.

So again, I support you to identify those things that are holding you back because of where you are, and commit to changing that situation now.

And then finally, is someone holding us back and impeding our growth as a person?

This is the big one for a lot of us.

Rarely through malice, some people in our life are just barriers to our growth. Pure and simple. It might be that they don’t want us to outgrow them. Maybe they just can’t see your potential, and so never encourage you to be more. And sometimes, your own growth is impossible because the weight of supporting them in your life is just too great for you to lift both of you out of it.

But there’s the thing: if someone is the right person for you to be attached to, they are also someone who really wants you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be. They want you to be happy. They want you to be whole. They want you to grow.

Your growth doesn’t necessarily require you to be solo. But it does require you to have your own needs met, and for others in your life to accept your growth, and either encourage that growth, or let you go.

Nick Bowditch

Nick Bowditch

Nick Bowditch is a motivational speaker, best-selling author, of 'Reboot Your Thinking' and 'Actually, it IS all about me', and therapist. He is also a successful (and unsuccessful) entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, inspirational storytelling expert, blogger, he makes podcasts, he's a mental health advocate, a sexual abuse victim, and someone who lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is also a survivor.

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