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What Growth Season Are You In?

Updated: Jan 20

Growing up on a farm in the Midwest, I very much appreciate the changing of the seasons and how they coincided with the farming process:

  1. Preparing/Planting (Spring)

  2. Growth (Summer)

  3. Harvesting (Fall)

  4. Repairing/Preparing (Winter)

Many times, we refer to our life in terms of seasons, based primarily on our age. This is one way to think of seasons of life.


I’d like to suggest a different perspective, one that may lead to you find more energy and positive outlook for whatever season of life you may be in now.


Before I share my insights, it will help to quickly describe the growth process within the annual farming cycle.


Bring on Spring

In the spring, it’s important to wait until the ground has thawed from winter before tilling the soil in preparation for planting. This typically happens in April or early May. During the planting process, the surface soil and leftover growth from the prior harvest is folded together. At the same time, the plow forms a deep groove in the ground where the seeds will be planted. The process can take between 2 – 4 weeks, depending on the size of the field(s). Once the seeds are planted, the environment has been prepared for growth.

From May through July, growth is evidenced in the tiny sprouts pushing up through the soil, slowly growing into small stalks.


We planted “field corn,” which is the type of corn used to make ethanol gas and animal feed. We had the saying, “Knee-high by Fourth of July!” This meant that if you could walk the rows of growing corn in early July and they were as high as your knee or higher, it was on track to be a good harvest.

This particular phase of growth, from April through July, can be filled with both anticipation and apprehension. Drought, hail, or other bad weather could weaken or destroy the growing crops. Disease or bugs pose threats as well. It’s important to tend to issues as they arise. Re-planting may be needed.


From Growth to Maturity

As the stalks mature into full growth, they not only grow in height but also start to do what they were meant to do – produce corn.


As the stalks mature, they are more able to withstand to certain types of weather and disease, though these threats still remain. The sprouts that started in April or May will take until October to fully mature. The process of maturing is slow – it can’t be rushed.


Patience is a key part of the process on the way to mature produce.

Patience is a key part of the process on the way to mature produce. Barb Ranck

A Time for Harvest

Toward the end of September/early October, the mature, green stalks turn brown. This is the sign that they have achieved their goal – the corn has reached full maturity. The ear of corn on each stalk is ready to move into whatever it will become next.


Harvest also brings another set of tools. The plow that was used in spring is replaced by the combine, grain trailers, and augers. After all the months of the summer growth season, the harvest season – similar to spring planting – is only around 2-4 weeks.

Winter Restoration

Once the crops are harvested, the time has come for the ground to recover. Winter comes as scheduled. It’s predictable.

While growth may not be taking place in the fields during this time, farmers continue to work. The winter season is a time for budgeting, reviewing inventory, and preparing for what will need to be done next spring.


Like spring, the winter season can be a season of anticipation and apprehension. Plans are made, despite the uncertainty of what the future may bring.

And then… right on time… comes spring. The cycle continues, just as it was designed to do.


Life Growth Seasons

In my farming example, I used a pretty simple object – corn – to describe the seasonal farming process. Once the planted corn seed has produced the ear of corn to maturity, it has fulfilled its purpose. It all happens in less than 12 months.

Obviously, our human experience is much more complex.

Our lives have multiple aspects/seeds, each of which can yield different produce during different seasons. Consider these areas of potential “produce”:

  1. Health

  2. Wealth/Finances

  3. Family

  4. Relationships/Community

  5. Job/Occupation

  6. Education

  7. Hobbies/Interests

  8. Living Arrangements

  9. Meaning/Purpose

Just like farming follows predictable cycles, these life growth areas also follow predictable cycles, as explained by this article. For now, I’ll call out four of the six stages and describe how they relate to personal life growth stages.

As you review these predictable growth stages, see if you can identify yourself in one or more of these stages in different areas of your life now. Awareness is the first step toward growth!


Growth Stage 1: Precontemplation

This is the earliest stage. During the precontemplation stage, people are often not considering where they could change/grow in a particular area.

If you are in this stage, you may feel resigned to your current state or believe that you have no control.


(Barb’s insights: Do you have areas in your life where you feel this way today? Where “nothing’s going to change” or that “it will always be this bad?” Maybe it’s your job. Or your health. Or your relationship. Your disrespectful kids. Your social life. Your finances. Does it feel like it’s a constant “winter” season in this area? In farming, winter is a season for restoration and preparation for spring. Would you be open to another perspective?)


Characteristics

  1. Denial

  2. Ignorance of the problem

Strategies

  1. Rethink your behavior

  2. Analyze yourself and your actions

  3. Assess risks of current behavior

Growth Stage 2: Contemplation

During this stage, people become more and more aware of the potential benefits of growth and making a change, but the costs tend to stand out even more. Because of this uncertainty, the contemplation stage of change can last months or even years. Many people never make it past the contemplation phase.


(Barb’s insights: Did you catch that? The Contemplation stage could last for months or even years. Or…forever. It’s likely that you have areas of your life where you have already moved past this stage, and you’ve seen the tangible “produce.” Now consider areas of your life that where you haven’t moved beyond the Contemplation stage. It may be that you can’t see the vision for how growing in this area will benefit you. Yet a flat tire isn’t just flat in one area. Do you see how getting stuck in this stage could cause you to become discontent, discouraged, or distracted by your circumstances? Would you be open to getting a clear vision?)

Plans are made, despite the uncertainty of what the future may bring. Barb Ranck

Characteristics

  1. Ambivalence – uncertainty or lack of conviction

  2. Conflicted emotions

Strategies

  1. Weigh pros and cons of behavior change

  2. Confirm readiness and ability to change

  3. Identify barriers to change

Growth Stage 3: Preparation

During the preparation stage, you might begin making small changes to prepare for a larger life change. If you want better work-life balance, you may practice leaving work on time at least once a week without feeling guilty. If you want better finances, you may meet with a financial advisor or financial coach. Depending on the area in which you are motivated to grow, you might also consult a therapist, join a health club, read self-help books or listen to educational videos or podcasts.


If you are in the preparation stage, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of successfully growing/changing. Prepare a list of motivating statements. Write down your goals. Find resources such as support groups, counselors, or friends who can offer advice and encouragement.


(Barb’s insights: If you get to this stage of growth, you’re MAKING PURPOSEFUL PROGRESS! In this growth stage and the next, it’s important to find Tier 1 Support to help you get clear on your growth goals and stay accountable to your progress. Depending on the area in which you want to grow, you may need a financial advisor, health or life coach, counselor, spiritual advisor, accountability partner, etc. It’s important to find someone with experience, availability, and the ability to offer perspectives, tools, and resources to keep you moving forward.)


Characteristics

  1. Experimenting with small changes

  2. Collecting information about change

Strategies

  1. Write down your goals

  2. Prepare a plan of action

  3. Make a list of motivating statements

Growth Stage 4: Action

During the fourth stage, people begin taking direct action in order to accomplish their goals. Oftentimes, resolutions fail because the previous steps have not been given enough thought or time.

Patience is a key part of the process on the way to mature produce. Barb Ranck

If you are currently taking action towards achieving a goal, congratulate and reward yourself for any positive steps you take. Reinforcement and support are extremely important in helping maintain positive steps toward change.


(Barb’s insights: “Resolutions fail because the previous steps have not been given enough thought or time.” Just like you can’t rush the summer growth season of farming, you can’t rush into sustainable personal growth. Well, you can try, it just won’t be sustainable. From my experience and experiences working with my clients, it’s also important to celebrate successes along the way. “Reinforcement and support are extremely important in helping maintain positive steps toward change.”)


Characteristics

  1. Direct action toward a goal

Strategies

  1. Reward your successes

  2. Seek out social support

Personal Growth Seasons – Can You Relate?

In my role as a Coach, I am honored to work with individuals in Stage 3 (Preparation) and Stage 4 (Action) in areas of life related to meaning/purpose, family, relationships/community, and job/occupation. I know, personally, how hard it can be to move beyond uncertainty into the unknown in all of these areas. I offer tools, perspectives, and the time needed to get clear on a plan to move forward.

Since Coaching may be a new concept to some, let me share what it looks like with examples from three of my clients:

  1. Claire wanted growth in the life area of Meaning/Purpose. She was deeply compelled to write her personal memoir. She had stepped into growth in this area seven years ago, when she completed a chapter outline. She had since completed three of ten chapters but was now stuck in the Contemplation stage. She wanted support and guidance to move into Preparation and Action. She hired me to encourage her, help her set goals and provide accountability, and celebrate smaller successes on her way to her ultimate goal. She is now making progress on her dream and others will be blessed by her personal story!

  2. Maria wanted growth in the area of Job/Occupation. She was discontent in her current role. She enjoyed the company she worked for and the people she worked with, though the role had changed. It was to the point where she felt she could no longer contribute her best efforts, which led her to feel overwhelmed and undervalued. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to leave the security of a team she had worked with for years, though she was growing more discontent daily. It was taking an emotional toll. I worked with Maria to assess her strengths, preferences, and what increases and drains her energy. As a result of our time together, she was confident enough to apply for a position in the company that better suited her, and she got the job! She recently commented, “I keep waiting for the job to get harder, but then I realized – this is what gives me energy! It can be challenging, but I can stay energized because it’s so aligned with who I am.”

  3. Jodi wanted growth in the area of Family. She is the mother of three, including one adopted child with emotional challenges. Jodi was doing her best to be a good mom to all three children, though she was struggling. She had lost her energy and was feeling like things may never change. I introduced Jodi to the Enneagram, a tool that describes 9 character models and how each experiences life from that type’s perspective. Through this education, and continued conversations, Jodi gained clarity on her own type and how this perspective influenced her parenting style. She also observed characteristics in each child that helped her understand how they may see the world, and how she could better engage them through their perspective. In addition, Jodi set goals on how she wanted to be a better version of her type. She gained perspective, patience, and most of all – improved energy – even though her circumstances hadn’t changed. Jodi had.

Ready For A Season of Personal Growth?

Not sure where to start? Wondering if coaching is for you?


Sign up here for a free, 30-mn consultation.

Have you made some progress already but are wanting to see if I am the right person walk alongside you in the next phase of your journey?


Sign up here for a free, 60-mn consultation and we’ll explore the answer together.


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