Lasting change takes time and energy to integrate. While we continue to implement new year’s goals or try to build new habits through the year, it is important to maintain perspective and remember that everything has its own course. I write this as a reminder — not only for all of you, but also for myself. No matter what habit, intention or goal is being cultivated, we are sure to face challenges in the process. We will make mistakes and may have to take a break. We must remember to practice patience and learn to support ourselves in ways that allow us to mindfully continue the journey forward.
Self-development takes discipline, yet it should ultimately be enjoyable. Find the joy in evolving yourself and shaping your life! There will be easy days and rough days, but when habits and goals are rooted in something deeper than just a number or words, the purpose is clear. Ask yourself, what greater dream or values are my goals and habits rooted in? Perhaps it is the value of connection and community that motivates you to call a friend once a week. Maybe it’s the greater dream to be adventurous that makes you want to climb 14 14ers this year.
Being rooted in something deeper and more meaningful to my soul helps me to forgive myself for any slip-ups that may happen along the way. There will be a day or a week when things fall apart, and maybe I can’t complete an intended task. That doesn’t mean I should give up and never try again though! One of my own long-lasting habits is eating a plant-based diet. It would be impossible to maintain this if I didn’t have the deeper intention to live a more sustainable/compassionate life. Of course, over the last three years there have been times where a restaurant didn’t have any options for me, or I’ve accidentally eaten a non-vegan snack. I didn’t give up or dwell on these cases, I simply looked forward to the next meal where I could fulfill my task and deeper intentions.
The task isn’t the destination, it is the vehicle. Sometimes it breaks down, but one can always look back on the miles they have come, then get back in their vehicle and make more progress. We live in a dreamy world and an ambitious society. It is way too easy to hold ourselves to outrageous expectations. When we don’t meet them, we feel as though we have failed. Re-write this narrative and remember perspective on the process unfolding. Reward and celebrate the progress you’ve made and continue the journey.
Making any kind of change to the way you live your life will not be realized in a day, a week or even within the month. Many of us seek this instant gratification, yet we know the reality of the process that needs to take place. We have the opportunity each day to choose to make that positive change. Forcing ourselves into change never makes a lasting impact, change should be nourishing and supportive.
When you make a mistake or have to take a break, ask yourself how you can support and encourage yourself to continue?
I’ve found success using a habit tracker and journaling often. By tracking habits, I see my progress and actively participate in my own development. Seeing my growth and my patterns on the page has become invaluable! I track my hygiene, track my hobbies and log my sleep. My journals are where I keep myself accountable by using introspection and reflection to be present in the process. I have many different interests and intentions. Tracking enables me to clearly see where my time and energy is being used. I have been working on re-writing my patterns of overusing my devices and procrastinating. Journaling on a regular basis provides space to honestly communicate with myself about my development or challenges. We all learn and live uniquely, but maybe you would also find these tools helpful!
So, ask yourself: What will keep me accountable and provide greater perspective for my growth?
Photo by Alina Vilchenko.