Evolution is not simply a theory but an active force, one that has been actively present in shaping your life since birth. As children we embraced this evolutionary force. It helped us to learn and to grow; to crawl and then walk, to speak, to write and to read, to ride a bike and drive a car, to play ball, to paint, to add and subtract, to swim, to ski and to sing.
When we were younger we evolved rapidly and continuously. We were almost like sponges, soaking up new experiences, experimenting and trying new things, simply to learn something new. This rate of evolution slowed down as we aged though, as we began creating boundaries for ourselves, restrictions and limitations on 'who' we thought we were or could be, until our growth and evolution did not become a constant but an exception. It became ruled by choice, and so many of us, as we age, begin to choose not to grow or evolve further.
I understand that this wasn't always a conscious choice, that no one explained to us that giving in to our negative beliefs and our fears meant that we stopped evolving, that we stunted our growth, but it happened none the less. Additionally, few of us were ever told that the more we gave in to our fears and held ourselves back from evolving further, the more we would begin devolving, becoming less.
We were all born to be 'more' though. When young you weren't satisfied with who you were, what you knew and what you could do. You continued to push, to learn more, to do more, to try more. When did that slow down or stop for you? Why? Are you done? Have you evolved to be the best 'you' possible? Is there nothing left for you to discover about yourself, to learn or experience?
We are built with an infinite capacity to evolve. We can continue to learn new things, to experience new things, to develop new skills, to uncover hidden talents until our last breath. Why then do so many of us 'settle' along the way? At what point did you decide that you were 'enough'? Often it wasn't even a conscious choice. We maybe took a break, sat back and got a little too comfortable, complacency stealing over us like a warm blanket we became reluctant to kick off.
You can choose to take notice though, to remove the blanket of complacency and to begin actively making choices that jump start your evolutionary path. Use the following suggestions to help you continue your evolutionary journey...
- Surround yourself with new ideas. This may mean speaking with people unlike yourself, or reading a book or journal outside your current area of expertise. You never know what you are likely to think about something until you put yourself into the position of needing to think about it!
- Recycle your beliefs about... you! It is often our beliefs about ourselves, who we are, what we can do or what we should do, that create limitations to our growth. Question old beliefs to uncover new ones. You are far more capable than you likely give yourself credit for.
- Try things on, see what fits. Things we may dismiss out of hand may be a better fit for us than we thought, but we won't know unless we give it a try first. Nobody expects to 'like' raw fish, but you have to try Sushi to know for sure. Taste it, try it, take it for a spin. The old adage 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' is your mantra here.
- Resist Resistance. Still the little voice inside your head that is telling you No, that is scrambling to pull the Complacency blanket back over your head. Expect resistance. Embrace it and lead it forward with you, helping it learn that there's no point in resisting what you're going to do anyway.
- Focus on Learning, not Teaching. Teaching is great, but if all of your energy goes to teaching then your focus is solely on 'what you know'. Learning is all about discovering 'what you don't know'. Learning leads to your growth, teaching leads to someone else's.
- Feed your Curiosity. One of the greatest sources of learning is our curiosity. The more that you feed yours, rather than stifle it, the more you create a learning mindset. Have a question about how something works? Seek out the answer. It doesn't matter whether it leads you to something that enhances your job prospects or not. Train your brain to realize that it is all right, once again, to ask questions, to admit to not knowing something and to seek answers.
- Choose a goal bigger than you are. If the goals you set for yourself are all within your current level of capability then you are not required to stretch or to grow. Choose a goal that is larger than yourself to push you to learn, grow and evolve further.
Constant evolution should be the goal that we all strive for, to be constantly pushing ourselves to be more, to know more, to do more. With this mindset it means that our choice is not to 'Evolve OR die trying' but instead to 'Evolve AND die trying'. We should all end our lives with the same curiosity and dedication to growth that we entered the world with.