This is called a no-fluff intro. I don’t have an inspiring anecdote for you–I have something better: an honesty challenge. Ready? Fill in the blanks:

If I could hit the fast-forward button on something, it would be _____.

I wish I was better at _____ already.

I wish I was done with _____ already.

Maybe you’re feeling restless in an area of your life that’s not growing as fast as you’d like. Maybe you’re craving change–and you want it yesterday. Or maybe you want to know all the details of the path ahead before you take action on something that you’ve always wanted to do.

We don’t like imperfect starts or slow progress, do we?
We want perfect and finished right out of the gate.

Ready for some life-altering truth? All plants grow through the dirt, and so do we. The best things grow little-by-little over time.

lara casey garden it's okay to grow slowThe first zinnia of the season bloomed in the garden this week. This little plant is about the size of a popsicle stick right now, but it will be four-feet tall by July.

For example, if plant a zinnia seed and dump a bucket of water on it, can I expect a full-grown plant and flowers the next day? We create those kinds of unrealistic and unhealthy expectations in our own lives, don’t we? We chase after fast results, only to feel inadequate when they don’t happen.

Have you felt that?

We often think of slow growth as flawed growth, but the truth is that all good things grow slow–babies, fruit, relationships, and big dreams.

Here’s some encouragement for you from my upcoming book, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

cultivate-book-text-lara-casey
How will nurturing growth and embracing small bits of progress get you anywhere fast?

Maybe fast isn’t the goal.

Maybe cultivating an intentional life means aiming for what happens over time—like the richness of relationships—rather than getting to the finish line. When something matters to you, you don’t focus on how slow the journey is to get there; you keep moving forward because the path forward is worth it. The world says do more, grow fast, be big, use these tricks, analyze, do it like those people, get ahead. But that’s not how good things take root.

It's Okay to Grow Slow 2

New homeowners like trees labeled “fast growing” to fill in a space quickly. But fast-growing trees don’t have deep enough roots to last through storms and drought. Good things grow and take root, little by little.

Maybe, despite everything everyone tells you, slow is richer than fast.

Maybe a slower pace will help your roots stretch deep and wide.

It’s okay to grow slow.

cultivate-book-text-lara-casey

Here are Three Reasons Why Slow Growth is More Powerful Than Fast (and three tips on how to harness the power of slow starting today!):

Who-Slow-Growth-is-Better-Than-Fast

What happens over time is better than “instant” results because:

1. When we only focus on the finish line–or on perfect outcomes–we miss all the life that happens along the way. We miss the good things growing right in front of us on the journey. And you know what else? We miss potentially better outcomes.

Grow slow tip: think back to some of the dreams and plans you had as a kid. What if you made a list of dreams and had to stick to that list, no matter what? What if you weren’t allowed to change your mind, change course, or consider new paths as you grew and explored the world–and your talents? If that was the case, I’d be a very unhappy geologist right now. And I likely wouldn’t have met Ari because I wouldn’t have become a personal trainer and worked at the gym where he first asked me for workout advice. I am so grateful my path didn’t follow a linear plan–it was more of a zig zag : ) Slow growth allows us to see better outcomes–and take action on them!

2. Slow growth allows us time to prepare, learn, and… grow! Little by little progress adds up and, in the wait, we are ripened and readied. Trust that what you want to cultivate matters enough to allow it to grow over time as you take small steps forward—and some big leaps along the way too. Your cultivated life matters enough to tend it like a garden and trust that the effort invested over time will add up.

Grow slow tip: When something feels hard because I feel like I don’t “know” enough or I feel like I’m not equipped for the task, I think of Moses. He didn’t feel capable of doing what God asked him to do, and you know what? He didn’t have to be! God helped him and He grew Moses’ character over time. He readied him along the way, not all at once. When you feel unprepared or like you’re not ready, celebrate. Maybe what’s ahead of you is a time of major growth. I often think to myself that the more incapable I feel, the more opportunities I have to grow my faith and put my trust in God’s strength–not my own.

3. Fast growth doesn’t last. Little by little, we learn to care for what we’ve been given. According to multiple studies, a majority of lottery winners end up going broke and filing for bankruptcy. They aren’t equipped to handle financial gain that fast.

Grow slow tip: Most of the time, what holds many of us back isn’t fear of failure, but rather, fear of success. But, here’s the thing: most success does not happen overnight. And you have permission to change your mind or change course along the way if that’s what God says to do. It’s unlikely that you’ll win the lottery–literally or figuratively–and that is a great thing! Instead, you get to go the path of real progress–the path of slow growth. Fast fixes didn’t heal my marriage, grow our company, cultivate my faith, or strengthen my bond with friends. Little-by-little progress added up, and it continues to!

Want more? You got it! Get my new (FREE!) It’s Okay to Grow Slow e-book by entering your email below. This 26-page e-book is full of practical encouragement from people who are cultivating intentional lives and embracing slow, right where they are. I can’t wait to hear your favorite tip!

Lara Casey It's Okay to Grow Slow

IT'S OKAY TO GROW SLOW

26 Pages of Advice and Encouragement on How to Embrace Little-by-Little Progress Versus Overnight Results

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Your turn! What have you been anxious about lately, and which tip above (or in the e-book) resonated with you the most? I love hearing your thoughts. I’ll send one of you to send a Cultivate Shop goodie box.

42 Show Comments
  1. Melissa S.

    I am anxious about bringing intentionality to my sons’ and my summer. I am anxious about planning for our school year coming up. Anxious for finances to pay for home maintenance and college coming up.

  2. Katie @ A Place to Dwell

    This eBook was exactly what I needed to read this morning! THANK YOU! :) I’m absolutely finding myself in a slow season…stuck in the tension, stuck in the disappointment, ready and eager to move on to the next thing! :) But I loved all of these reminders that He’s working in our waiting…that there is SO MUCH we cannot see from where we stand. I am confident in the good work He’s doing in and through me in this season and grateful for the reminder of it this morning. Can’t wait to read Cultivate, Lara!

  3. Amanda

    My favorite thought was the fast growth doesn’t always last – like the Bible verse about trees planted by the stream of living water – chances are these trees work fast growing trees ;) sometimes I’m so focused on the outcome or the ending I’m trying to get there quickly that I forget to enjoy the process. New habits and goals are accomplished one day at a time, but still can take many many days to grow deep roots.

  4. Brianna

    I can’t wait to dive into this ebook. The idea that “good things grow little by little” has been my anthem lately, thanks to you. This past year has been so incredibly challenging in my marriage, to the point we’ve almost given up multiple times. I want it to be fixed overnight, but I know that’s not realistic. It is going to take time, and I’m learning to accept that. My favorite tip that you’ve shared is that if we focus on the finish line we will miss out on life along the way. My finish line would be a restored and thriving marriage, but the truth is, my husband and I both need to grow along the way. I don’t want to miss those opportunities to grow and learn along the way. I know God can heal and restore and I am praying that He will teach me during this hard growing season. Thanks for this, Lara! You are amazing! :)

    • Christy

      Brianna, ME TOO. I feel like I could have written this comment. You are not alone, friend.

  5. Nicole

    I lost my fiancée two weeks ago. I’m so unsure of so many things now. I don’t know if I’m supposed to continue this life alone or anything. Everything’s one big epic mess.

    • Lara

      I’m so sorry to hear this, Nicole. So many prayers for you in this incredibly painful season!

  6. Tracy

    I felt a nudge to visit your blog today and lo, it was exactly what I needed!!! I can’t wait to read the ebook. Thank you so much!

  7. Christy

    Gosh. Can I come visit you for a day to hang out in the garden and just talk? (I only live a few hours away!) You hit the nail on the head, Lara. This may sound silly, but I am so thankful that you speak in nature-themed metaphors. God has truly given you a gift for finding a way to relate life’s issues to the creation He has given us.

  8. Tammy

    I love the whole idea it is ok to grow slow. I m not the most patient person and waiting sometimes is hard for this on the go person and type A who likes her ducks in order and well God has been showing me that I am in a season of wait and prune and grow. So I am blessed to think growing slow is ok. I don’t want to miss out or look back and wish I had slowed down.

  9. Caitlyn

    I’m anxious about planting roots. To many it may seem exciting, but to me it brings fear. Fear of becoming stuck or failing to progress. We’ve lived in 5 states in 7 years (grad school etc) and are finally in a place of staying put.

  10. Shana

    The tips that resonated with me the most are that our paths don’t have to be linear and they can take another path! My path has not looked at all like I thought and it has caused me a lot of anxiety, due to the uncertainty of it all! I love your tips and can’t wait to read the ebook . I think I see some powersheets in my future as well!

  11. Jessica

    I love the freedom that comes from knowing we don’t have to stick to those linear plans you mentioned in point 1! You shouldn’t have to stick with anything that will make you miserable- but often you need to test it out to see where your path should go next!

  12. Nicole C

    I literally was just talking to my husband about feeling like I’m doing a lot of physical work, but not seeing any tangible results. And I”m all about understanding seedtime, progression time, and harvest time…so I needed to read this right now to be reminded! THANK YOU!!

  13. Charissa Steyn

    I always love your “little by little”encouragements Lara! For the last few years I’ve been feeling like I’ve been running a marathon. Everything feels hard and slow and it’s difficult to see any progress. But I’m starting to lay aside the feelings of wanting to give up and embrace the beauty of this messy, sweaty adventure of life. God sees me and he’s growing me in the hidden places… Our world makes us think that any growth or progress we make has to be seen. But he sees and he’s running this marathon with me step by step.

  14. Katie

    I keep think about how weeds are fast growing. They spring up in the wrong dirt and steal nutrients from other plants. They hustle and rush and rob. I’ve been slowly transitioning back into a career I ran from after a very hard season. It humbled me then, but with the little by little I’m realizing I can be in that career and I can set up the boundaries I need to stay healthy (emotionally and relationally). It’s taken so much slow learning (and truthfully I’m still in the learning) to establish a healthy foundation (roots!) both in my own life and in the career (getting back up to speed) but I am seeing that each bit of growth is from a more solid place and in five and ten (and maybe even twenty!) years it won’t matter if it took me 6 months or 2 years or even longer to re establish myself. I think I’ll be all the better prepared for all of it instead of overwhelmed and ready to run again.

  15. Jen Kessler

    Honestly, I didn’t want to read this post. I’ve been frustrated lately with the fact that some growth is just slow naturally (Instagram and blog readers) and frustrated with the feeling like I’m missing my opportunity. But your tips #2 & #3 are especially true for me and who knows what God’s plan is. Maybe I am going to miss what looks like my opportunity but maybe God’s opportunity is something different and better and requires good, solid (and slow) growth through this period first.

  16. Samantha

    I thought my stepping in to start taking over the family business was going to be my growth challenge in this season, but I’m finding my “slow growth” challenge is actually in listening to God and stepping out in faith. I know He is calling me to use my life and experiences to help others, buy it is a slow process to become “ready” to be that open and vulnerable. I admire you Lara that you answered that call in your life and share so authentically.

  17. Michelle

    wow, funny how God often “plants” just what you need to read or see right in front of you when you need it most.
    We are is a season of change, have been for a while, but it just got real when my youngest graduated from UNC on Mother’s Day and is moving to California in June. My Child i was told that would never get through Kindergarten. He is on the Autism Spectrum and it has been a journey, but he is thriving.
    Also we sold our house and are renting it back thinking we were moving to one place but nothing is working out, and we sold the house at a loss after a failed sale last year. It went so smoothly and totally unexpectedly ( we had someone approach us and we are currently renting it back) I have to believe God is in it.
    Every time I see your insta stories, read your blog I am pulled towards your post for a care giver. I have worked with children of all ages and many with special needs since age 15 in so many ways and places.
    the thing is I have health issues. I know realistically I could not keep up that many hours a day. So i open the application over and over and stare at it, then closing the page knowing i could not do it.
    Yet God keeps saying ‘Plant your flowers and trust” A phrase i have heard in my low times since in my 20’s. Now at age 47,I know i have so much to offer with my yoga training. My past teaching of various subjects. writing lesson plans specifically accommodating each child I worked with. I know how to to research the state requirements and come up with plans that are all hands on . I used to volunteer and teach month long projects integrating all subjects, writing, math, science, social studies, you name it in the classes my kids were in when they were younger. Then got asked back year after year by those teachers to do projects with their current classes.
    We had plans to move to Wilmington. I do not feel like that is where we are supposed to be at this time at all. Nothing pans out every time we look. Visiting verses living there are 2 different things.
    My heart aches to work with children again. To be involved in creating projects, but my body won’t let me do it full time and I have had to accept that a miraculous healing may not be what God has planned.
    Waiting with all the what, when, why, how questions constantly swirling in my head and lets be real FEAR is the hardest.
    Thank you so much for posting this today. My heart needed it so
    Michelle

  18. Rachel

    I love Hayley Morgan’s thoughts about the ways the Lord uses tension and hard circumstances in our lives to slow us down and help us reconnect with His heart. When we are broken over unmet expectations, loss, hardships, we either break down or we turn our eyes to Him in hope. A friend and I were discussing this recently, and she encouraged me to “grow slow” through the dirt of work difficulties by being faithful and hoping in Him. Grateful for these reminders that He is working in our waiting.

  19. Becky

    I was just talking to my husband about how I forget that there is a learning curve for new things. Tip 2 covers that idea. I think when I start something I should know “right now” how to do it.

  20. Caryn

    I have been frustrated that I’m not better able to handle the fact
    I’m going through a divorce. I realize now though that I need time to grow and change into who I am. Moving on quickly into a crazy new life or relationship will not cultivate the relationship with Jesus I so desperately need to remain grounded in my faith and be prepared for future, whatever He has for me.

    • Julie Satterfield

      Thank you. ..im.going through the pain of a broken engagement. ..I wish so much I was married…I know I need to grow first. .and I know it may never hsppen, too, and I need to be content in that…it’s so hard right now…I’ll pray for you. Would you pray for me, too?

    • Lara

      Oh Julie, yes. I will pray now too!

  21. Shelby

    Growing slow…I’m learning this. I was just having time the Lord. Feeling a little apathetic and frustrated (honesty here!) because my spiritual walk seems slow. My prayer life doesn’t seem fruitful. I tend to compare these seasons to past seasons where I’ve never been closer with God and where my prayer life has been consistent and life giving.
    It’s ok if after one prayer or one sit down reading time of scripture I don’t feel a life altering change. Jesus is going to teach me something in this process. Growing slow makes me think of faithfulness.

  22. Sara

    I loved this post. So so encouraging! I have been struggling lately with, being completely honest here, the desire to grow on Instagram and balancing that with how to honor the Lord with how I do that. I’ve realized that a lot of ways to grow seem really inauthentic and also go against my values, but by not doing them, I’ve found that things go much much more slowly, if at all. It can be discouraging, but I need to keep in mind what truly matters and what lasts and what actually truly fills us and is worth cultivating. So thank you for sharing this post!

  23. Krystal Brewer

    I have been anxious about growing my business and still being able to cultivate a life giving home all while not becoming overwhelmed by all the to dos!

  24. elisabeth

    Lately I have been anxious about parenting (parenting a spirited 3 year old is tough!) and about the size of our family, I want another child, but my husband isn’t sure.
    I am trying to rest in the fact that God ordained my parenthood of this little girl at this moment and therefore, He is growing me, however slow it feels to me. I want to stop chasing unrealistic goals as a mom and embrace the hard and joyful moments right now! To that end, tip 2 resonates most with me. I am going to re-read Moses’ story this week as refresher!
    Looking forward to reading the ebook. Thanks for all the encouragement Lara!

  25. Meghan

    I am anxious about whether or not to homeschool my trio. I taught kindergarten and feel fairly capable but I do not want to choose wrongly. I am also anxious about completing our family with adoption. I know we are not in the season for it and God is preparing our hearts but I want all the answers now. I am going to embrace this season I am in and try to focus in on what the Lord is teaching me.

  26. Allison

    I’m incredibly anxious about where my career path is going next. I’m unfulfilled and broken after spending 3 years in ministry. I may have the opportunity to quit and spend my days with my children, but is that what is best for me? For my children? I feel the clock ticking while I wrestle with this as my second child is due in October.

  27. Deanna

    Lara,

    This post was so good! I really appreciate you taking the time to share these much needed truths! I’m naturally an anxious person, but what has been filling my mind up lately has been our upcoming transition to a new city in a week (woah!), finishing my not-so-lifegiving job, and praying that our foster son would desire to join us in the transition despite lots of obstacles and a lot of fear of the unknown. In it all, I see and realize I truly just need to learn contentedness and to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing!

  28. Heather

    I am super anxious about an upcoming move across the country. My husband is getting out of the military and we have plans to move back home (NY), grab our stuff, and move to Asheville, NC. We’ve never even been there! But we feel so much pull to go there and start our new life. There are so many unknowns going into this new phase of life beginning in August, that I am just wishing that it would hurry up and we’d be there already!

    Number 1 resonates with me most because I am only seeing the finish line and this perfect image of a perfect house and perfect life. But I know that’s not even realistic! It’s going to be hard, and by trying to speed it up and stress about it now, we aren’t enjoying our final months on the West Coast.

  29. Elizabeth

    The e-book was a huge blessing, thanks! I’ve been anxious lately about big decisions regarding future and one of the e-book things that resonated the most with me was: “It always encourages me in seasons of waiting
    to know that while I may feel like “nothing”
    is happening, the truth is that God is always
    simultaneously orchestrating hundreds of
    thousands of things relating to our particular
    circumstance that we cannot even begin to fathom
    the scope of” Grateful!!

  30. Jessaca

    I love this! I work full time as a tech writer and I just started my own business on the side where lately I’ve felt so pushed to constantly growing growing growing without being intentional with how i’m doing it. I want to have something sustainable and beautiful and enjoy life as I grow. Unfortunately, I have so many ideas that I’m not taking action on any of them because they’re all vying for my attention. But you’ve given me the encouragement to tackle one plank at the time to build my arc.

  31. Sara

    I am anxious about my future. My job is draining me of life and joy, but the thought of just walking away without something else is terrifying. My husband is encouraging me to take the leap, but I just can’t imagine us being without the income. I want to pursue a different career path that I have experience in, but not a formal degree so, I have no real prospects and I’m anxious about taking on student loans with no promise of a job. I guess I should take #2 to heart and consider big leaps and growing in the process to bigger and better opportunities and stop worrying about the finish line.

  32. Sarah

    Mmmm this is so good, Lara. I have so much trouble not wanting to rush ahead because I often feel stuck in this mentality of wanting to get things checked off a list (i.e. schoolwork and college applications). What a good reminder that the joy is in the journey and the life that happens between the starting line and the finish line, and that the lessons along the way are invaluable. I want to discover what I was created to do without doing any work, but I’ve realized that doing that removes the necessity to rely on God and trust in what He has for me.

  33. what’s inspiring me lately – chelsey fisher

    […] Three reasons why slow growth is better than fast: […]

  34. Katie

    Jumped on your blog this morning and I saw so many titles about SLOW GROWTH. The words were popping out at me. I think God is trying to get my attention. =)

    Katie | http://www.katieskronicles.org