Change and growth. The two words get used a lot in the personal development sphere. And we use the terms interchangeably so often that the difference between the two words becomes unclear. You might even be wondering now, “Is there a difference?” The answer is – absolutely.
Change and growth are not the same.
As author John Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Change is an unavoidable part of life. Our bodies change, seasons change, our jobs change, our friend groups change. Change is what happens when things don’t stay the same. Change means transformation which could be either positive or negative; it could mean progression or regression.
Growth on the other hand implies positivity. Growth means progression. The actual definition of the word is to “undergo natural development by increasing in size…progress to maturity” and “to become larger or greater over a period of time.” And whereas change can happen with or without our permission, growth is optional. It only happens with our consent and when we make the decision to grow.
In simplest terms, change is switching course and growth is the evolution process that occurs while en route.
How do I know if I need change or growth?
Sometimes when we are feeling stuck, we feel the need to “make a change.” But do we really need to make a change or are we feeling a deeper desire to evolve? Sticking to the course metaphor above, the best way to distinguish between the two is to first determine if you even like where you’re going!
Consider whether the situation you’re in could get better if you applied some thought and effort. And more importantly, determine if it’s worth the effort to you. If you otherwise like and appreciate your situation but you’re just feeling bored or undriven, then try seeking out opportunities to develop new skills and learn new things. If you feel that there’s no realistic hope for the situation to ever improve, or you’ve lost interest and you don’t care to put in any more effort, then it might be time to change direction!
Remember that change can produce growth – but it doesn’t always. Growth, however, will always produce change. Growth is seeking to improve your skills and abilities through work, practice, and consistent effort. It’s embracing the learning process and welcoming opportunities for improvement. If you actively seek continuous growth, continuous change will follow. That’s the best of both worlds!