If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you have seen me struggle to learn and evolve into something more than an overwhelmed and at times sad, mother of three. Over the last eight years of writing, I’ve went from learning who I am to studying relationships with the hope of improving mine, to helping others find their peace and contentment. It’s been a process and I am still struggling and evolving.
Within that process, I found three necessary steps. These steps get us completely through the process. It’s very easy to falter halfway through and give up or screw up. I know, believe me.
The steps we must complete to fully see a project, value, goal or personal evolution through to the end are:
- Find a good teacher and learn: We have to be open and willing to change, grow and learn. If we think we have nothing to learn, we’re done. There is no movement. We stay stuck. It is important to seek information, awareness, emotional perception, skills, etc. Finding a helpful, willing, trustworthy, patient and respectable teacher is key. We can get a lot of information from research but a human brings meaning and connection with their teaching. As mammals, our brains are designed to interact with other’s brains. Interacting literally changes the shape of our brains and ingrains ideas and behavior. Teachers (who could be family members, friends, co-workers, etc.) give us something to work with and expand on. They give us perspective.
- Apply what you learn: Once we have a new skill or idea we have to practice it. This is the action step. It is easy to take in more and more information or learn more and more skills, but applying them to our lives makes the difference. This is when things get done. This is when things change. If we read all about managing conflict in a relationship but never apply that knowledge when we have a disagreement, then the reading did no good. We may feel superior, but we are as unhelpful as someone who did not learn anything about conflict.
- Apply it consistently for a long time: We may learn from the best teacher, apply our knowledge to the appropriate area of our lives, but unless we use that information consistently, the practice fades and our skill level dwindles or the information gets forgotten. We can think of learning a foreign language as an example. If we don’t practice speaking it regularly, our verbal skills become rusty. We forget how to conjugate or pronounce certain words.
The process in real life
I spent many years reading and finding teachers who taught what I needed. I read many spiritual, personal development and relationship books. I talked to and befriended many people with the same interests and greater knowledge. I collected information and sat on it. I was insatiable but did not do anything with what I learned.
I gradually started sharing what I learned on my website. I then began coaching others in the skills I had found and honed. Eventually, I wrote a book. All the while, little bits of knowledge began slipping into my relationships with partners and with my children. I began to recognize when my ideas, skills and information were applicable. I applied them.
But, something still did not gel. I still often felt overwhelmed and alone. I still struggled within my relationships.
I was missing consistency. The responsiveness I had learned to practice with my children needed to be applied continually with them and with my partner, not just when I remembered it or when a major issue demanded it.
I also learned that I need others to consistently be there for me. Giving without receiving regularly, feels empty in the long run. That emptiness stifles personal progress.
Following through on all three steps gives us the chance to move forward in our lives. Stopping after the first or second step, keeps us stuck. Completing all of the steps is not easy, especially two and three. They take effort and courage, but the result is growth. Growth is what makes us alive and ultimately content.
How are you at making progress? Are there some areas of your life where it is easier to follow through? Some where it is more difficult?