Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

Keep a Record

January 19, 2011

As 2010 comes to a close, I find myself in a very reflective mood. This year has been full of triumphs and challenges. However, the discoveries and lessons learned were extremely rewarding. I started thinking about the areas that I have grown in this year, and I realized how instrumental journaling has been in helping me to process and learn from the events in my life. I was first introduced to the value of journaling about six years ago when a very influential woman at the Environmental Protection Agency shared the insights she has received from journaling. She made a point that really resonated with me: “Your thoughts and experiences become permanent when they are written on paper.” Also, the benefits of journaling are endless—reducing stress, conceptualizing goals, assisting with problem-solving, and helping with working memory.

As the beauty of our lives unfolds, that beauty will stay with us longer if we capture it by keeping a personal record. As we all know, sometimes the price of beauty is pain, but it gives us perspective and produces resiliency—simply writing about life’s challenges helps us to better cope with them. Also, Webster’s dictionary indicates that a record is “something set down in writing for the purpose of preserving the knowledge of it.” There are many lessons that we go through in life, and we acquire much needed knowledge and wisdom in the process.

Interestingly, researchers have found that you are more apt to commit facts to memory when you take notes. So I say take note of the things in your life that you never want to forget.

  • What has left a permanent mark on your life?
  • Even if it was a challenge, how did you overcome that challenge?
  • What has brought meaning to your life?
  • What did you prove to yourself?
  • Did you learn how to trust yourself more?

Through it all, I have come to realize that I love life—even with its challenges and my shortcomings because on the other side of my challenges are victories, strengths, and triumphs. Triumphs have occurred in our lives—sometimes we forget to pull them up from our memories. But, I challenge you to find a permanent place for those unforgettable memories—a journal keeps record of the beautiful and historical moments in your life. Not only do the lives of famous people deserve to be recorded, but your life holds incredible importance; and no one can tell your story like you can. Hopefully, as the years pass by, you will have a book that is more meaningful to you than any other autobiography because it is the one that you lived through. All in all, I say cheers to meaningful, hopeful, and reflective living!

Cassandra Kirkland, M.S.

Little Ms. Perfect

August 27, 2010

Have you ever forgotten that you are human? Not with regard to having arms, legs, fingers and toes, but with regard to acknowledging that you are capable of having imperfections. Not only are you capable of having them, but they are inherent to this experience we call life.

Well, at times, I must say that I have forgotten this basic nugget of wisdom. I guess it stems from my desire to be perfect in all that I do—especially when it comes to how I interact with the ones around me. You know, when I am not being a good perfectionist, and the reality of my imperfections comes within plain view—it is as if someone turned the power off of “Little Ms. Perfect,” and I am left immobilized…frozen…stuck…

The good thing is that after I regain the ability to move again, I am comforted by the realization that my imperfections are real, but they aren’t inherently bad. They provide opportunities for self-reflection, self-examination, and ultimately growth.  Challenges and shortcomings are the process agents in life that help to shape us as individuals—the defining factor is how we choose to use them. They can be stepping stones or obstacles, acknowledgements or excuses, addressed or dismissed—the choice is ours.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be stuck in this “cycle of perfectionism” filled with failed attempts at being perfect and realizing again and again that I am indeed not perfect.   Instead, I want to set realistic expectations to address obstacles and challenges in my life without the false expectations of perfectionism.

Interestingly, Dr. Carol Dweck—a world renowned psychologist who studies achievement and success at Stanford University—has found in her research that people are more likely to succeed when they adopt a growth perspective (an understanding that achievement requires continuous and concerted effort). This growth perspective involves addressing shortcomings instead of overlooking them.

This tidbit of information reinforces the fact that I that I don’t have to leave my imperfections unattended. But, I think that it is important to address challenges in a manner that isn’t self-defeating. No longer should the goal be to be a perfect person, but I want to be a better person—a person who is successful with improving the areas in which I am weak and reaching out to others when I need a helping hand. Embracing this side of life helps me to love myself more, and it also helps me to love others more.

Not requiring perfection from myself has naturally caused me to stop requiring perfection in others. Perfect things and perfect people are often like robots—lifeless and set to following programs, which leaves no room for creativity or learning experiences. With that being said, I have a lot of classrooms to enter and many outlets for creativity. But in the end, I will be in the process of becoming a better person, not a perfect person. So, I say cheers to creative and meaningful living! What about you?

Cassandra Kirkland, M.S.