One Tuesday night in June, I found myself lying down on a mat in a hot, candlelit room filled with people, mostly women. It’s my first serious attempt to do yoga (serious because it’s actually costing me both time and money). My wife and her sister were the ones who invited me to join them in this yoga class.
After doing a few easy poses at the beginning of the class, I tried to follow the teacher’s instructions by attempting to hook my right arm behind my back while I was in an uncomfortable, left-cheek-and-shoulder-on-the-floor, twisted position. I might have over-extended my right shoulder. I felt pain. As I tried to slowly unhook my right arm while sweating buckets, I asked myself: “Why am I here again? To keep my wife happy?”
One early morning in January 2016, I received an email informing me that I did not pass a certification exam that I took a few months back. The initial feeling was bittersweet because I almost passed, a much better result than what I was expecting. Right after I took the exam, I knew it was a long shot for me to achieve a good enough score to pass. ‘I didn’t prepare well enough’ was my built-in excuse in case my hunch was correct. I found myself staring again at the exam result in front of me. I sank deeper into my chair. As sadness and disappointment were taking over, I examined myself: “Why did I take this exam again when I knew that the odds were stacked against me? To feel proud of myself?”
Further back, one Friday evening in 2012, my wife and I were on our way to a friend’s house to attend the weekly meeting of our Growth Group. It would be another long night of studying the Bible, talking about our personal triumphs and struggles, and holding each other accountable on how we live our lives in pursuit of holiness. While driving through some horrendous payday Friday traffic, I thought of all the other things that I could have done with this time: finishing some more work in the office, going out on a date with my wife, or staying at home with our daughter. As I parked in front of our meeting place, I took a deep breath and wondered: “Why did I commit my Fridays to this group? To give in to peer pressure?”
Those questions and some other similar self-inquiries are common to me whenever I’m failing or struggling in something that I chose to do. It’s as if I was convincing myself to give up on doing those ‘unfun’ things. Maybe if I wasn’t reminded on why I even decided to commit to those things, I might have folded up easily.
Before answering the whys, let me put some more context. It was in 2011 when I initially heard the phrase, “what you can’t measure, you cannot improve.” And at that point in my life, I felt that I was stagnating. So I started a personal project to determine where I spent my time. I was working on the premise that if you want to improve something in your life, you have to spend time on it. The result of my time measurement project was disappointing at best. I was actually spending a lot of time on things that don’t really allow me to grow or develop as an individual. From that point forward, I became conscious of where I spend my time. And there lies my reason for engaging in all those ‘unfun’ activities I mentioned above; I was minding my personal growth in some of the aspects of my life: health, learning and spiritual.
Minding your growth is like minding that gap between the rails and where you are when boarding or alighting a train. “Mind the Gap” is a reminder to rail passengers to not take for granted the spatial gap between the station platform and the train door. That small gap might seem innocuous but can potentially cause embarrassment, delay, or death, at worst.
Similarly, we oftentimes are not mindful of our personal growth. We take it for granted, maybe believing that personal growth will naturally occur as we live our lives. There might be some truth to that, but just like not minding the gap, not minding our growth could lead to embarrassment, delay, or even injury to the different aspects of our lives.
I tried yoga despite my perceived bias against it because I knew that trying out something new – something out of my comfort zone – will be beneficial to my personal growth. Add to that the fact that my body will also benefit from having a physical activity. I registered to take the certification exam mostly due to my yearning to deepen my knowledge in a different field. Yes, it could benefit my career, but it was more about expanding my horizon, about learning something new. I committed my Friday nights to our Growth Group because there was a feeling of emptiness in my soul and I realized that achieving spiritual growth will not be achieved alone. It is meant to be undertaken with my brothers and sisters in faith.
Last night was my third consecutive week to attend a yoga class. Next year I shall retake my certification exam. And I’m earnestly praying for God’s leading for me and my wife for our ministry. All these and more, because I mind my personal growth. Hopefully, you will as well.
Anton Ng is a partner, Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 850 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For more information, visit our website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.
As published in The Manila Times, dated 05 July 217