You have some impressive goals for yourself. Whether they are health or fitness based, related to your relationships, financial or none of the above, there are some things that you are working to bring into existence in your future. It hasn’t been an easy road, there have been challenges and obstacles. You’re going for something that not everyone has and that doesn’t some naturally. Because of that, you’ve struggled in your pursuit.
We’ve all had days when it feels like our best attempts at progress are doing precisely nothing. Days when you don’t see the results of your efforts, times when it feels like you’re moving backwards, and stretches when you aren’t sure if your goals are worth the work when it feels like you will never reach them.
No, it’s not just you, and it actually has very little to do with what you’re doing. The issue is that we tend to measure our daily status against the vision of our achieved goals and get disappointed and frustrated when they aren’t the same. Much of progress is invisible for the majority of the time it is being made. How easy it is though, to get discouraged when we don’t see it! As much as I’d like to be in your life every day, reminding you of the amazing things you’re doing and how proud I am of your achievements, I’d rather help you to recognize that for yourself! So here are some changes you can make to support yourself in persevering toward your goals.
- Break that big, beautiful, vision of the future into achievable, incremental steps.
We’ve talked about this before, but no matter how much I “know” this, it’s still hard. We think about our futures and get so excited by that shiny future picture, and want it all to come right now! When goal setting and planning it’s so important to identify the small action steps that you are going to take along the way. The smaller the better. When you section your goal into bite sized pieces you can easily see the true progress that you are making, as you cross them off and move on to the next.
- Focus on the feeling you are hoping to achieve with your goal.
As you establish goals for yourself, don’t focus on how they will look, or what people will see, focus on how you will feel. You made this goal to feel a certain way, financially stable, strong, happy, calm, smarter, more accomplished, more equipped, more loved. Figure out the feeling that you are working toward. Like I said, most goals are very hard to see as they are being achieved. You will feel less stress about your financial situation long before you are debt free. You will feel stronger and more physically capable long before the scale registers that you are down 30 pounds. Stacking those feelings of success will push you forward when you are struggling to see the results.
- Change your definitions of “progress” and “success”.
When you are working toward a college degree do you consider one excellent exam to be success? What about walking around the block after work when your goal is to run a 5K? If you want to lose 30 pounds is choosing to make a meal at home vs going to the drive-thru success? Can progress include not moving forward, but staying where you are? If you are able to reframe the decisions that you make and the slight changes you have achieved as progress, you are already closer to your goal.
Establishing your ideal vision as your meter for progress sets you up for failure when you check yourself against it day after day and inevitably don’t see it. Decide now that every action that you take which moves you closer to your goal is progress. Every day that you make decisions with your future in mind, is a success.
Even days when you feel like you have let it all go, if you can learn to see progress in your mindset, recognize how you feel when you don’t do the things that move you forward, and find success in recommitting to your plan before you completely throw in the towel, you can save yourself from losing the progress you have made until that point. Trust me, some days just the fact that I didn’t order a pizza, have a sundae and wallow in self-pity on the couch all evening is a success. Labeling it as such has kept me from buying that pizza more than once 😉
- Celebrate the incremental victories!
As I’ve said, improving yourself is a constant struggle. Thanks entropy. Sure, some days it’s easier than others, but the fact that you have a goal means that you want something that does not come most naturally to you. So let’s treat our personal growth goals like what they are, challenges. And what do we do when people do something really hard? We cheer them on! We get really excited when they make an attempt. We tell everyone we know when the people we love are doing a great job. What about ourselves? Pants feel a little looser? Make yourself a card. Had a calm discussion instead of a yelling match with your significant other? Go get yourself a massage. Ran around the block without stopping? Call your running buddies and brag. Acknowledge the hard work of going after your dreams, and commend yourself for every victory! Guys, the people you love are going to be crazy excited about the hard work that you’re doing and want to see you happy. They want to celebrate with you! Do you know how many times I’ve called my husband in the room so that he can acknowledge that I can do one push-up more than I could before, or how much farther I can reach, how something fits differently and how fast I can do something? At least once a week.
When was the last time you let yourself celebrate the work you’re doing on yourself? Make it a regular thing, and see how much faster that progress comes!
Whatever you do, wherever you are in your goals, take it easy on yourself, give yourself some credit, and keep going! You’re doing it, whether you can see it yet or not 🙂