Your Growth Over Time

an array of organization tools like planners and notepads

No one ever started at the top.

We all know that big goals take time to achieve. Saving money to buy a house. Running a marathon. Landing a promotion. Writing a novel.

These are the kind of personal and professional goals that require hard work and dedication. The kind of long-term goals that may take months, years, or even a lifetime before we begin to see any progress.

Despite knowing this about big goals, we still can’t help but feel antsy about them. We want to see results now. We want to make progress right away. And we get frustrated when we take two steps forward only to then take several steps back. 

So then how do you stay motivated when growth is slow and practically nonexistent? How do you keep going when you’re not even sure if you’re heading in the right direction?

Firstly, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. We have all felt frustrated by the lack of progress on our goals and that sticky feeling of stagnation. 

What’s comforting is that there are real, practical steps you can take to help you stay the course and remain wedded to your goals. It all starts with learning how to  appreciate the progress you’ve already made and celebrating your growth over time. 

Write your goals down

You can’t measure your progress unless you know where you’re starting from.

So make sure that you write your goals down so that you have a specific starting point. Then, check in with your goals every week, month, and quarter to see how you’re progressing.

Celebrate your small steps 

Remember when you were a little kid? And every step was considered a momentous milestone? Whether it’s marking a child’s height on the wall and celebrating their growth over the years, or clapping when a baby begins to crawl or a toddler learns to talk, we marvel at the tiny progress of little ones.

But when it comes to our own adult lives, we’re not as celebratory. We only seem to be impressed by big milestones and growing by leaps and bounds. Becoming a boss. Or getting married. Or buying a house. Or getting published. 

We disregard the tiny steps that we take, day in and day out. And we feel like a failure because we’ve yet to make huge inroads in our career or personal life. 

Not every day of our lives is going to be momentous and extraordinary. So much of daily life is about experiencing the banal and mundane. And a big chunk of the goal-setting process is about doing the boring stuff, the stuff that no one wants to do, like showing up to the gym everyday, or showing up in front of your computer to write.

So instead of waiting around for the big milestones to come to fruition, start celebrating the small steps you’re making right now. Writing the first line of your novel. Getting dressed for the gym. Going for a walk. When you string together enough tiny steps, you make real progress. 

Here’s how to recognize the tiny steps you’re making everyday.

  • Your goal is to lower your cholesterol. Celebrate making yourself a nutritious dinner. 
  • Your goal is to organize your entire home. Celebrate decluttering your nightstand.  
  • Your goal is to run a marathon. Celebrate being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. 
  • Your goal is to expand your network. Celebrate working up the courage to invite a colleague you respect out to coffee. 

Don’t take your tiny steps for granted. You can’t get to point B without getting to Point A first.  And be proud of yourself when you stumble and pick yourself up again. 

Where were you five years ago?

Progress is a matter of perspective.

If you’ve ever hiked a long trail, then you’d know that feeling of looking over your shoulder and being amazed at how far you’ve come. How one minute you were putting one foot in front of the other, and the next minute you are looking back at the vast terrain that you’ve crossed. 

Your big goals are like that, too. It’s hard to appreciate how much you’ve grown and developed over time when all you see is how much more you have left to do. 

So take this moment to think back to last year or even five years ago. What were you doing? Where were you with your goals? Did you even have goals? 

Now imagine yourself as that person from five years ago. Would they be impressed with where you are now? Chances are they’d be pretty proud of you. Maybe you’re working in a big city, a dream that your past self always harbored. Maybe you have a wide network of strong friendships, a goal that they’ve always wanted.

Make a list of all the things you can do today that you weren’t able to do five years ago.  Being able to speak in public. Meeting with new clients. Even making a powerpoint presentation. Don’t take any of this growth for granted. 

When you look at your life from a different perspective, you will begin to see just how much you’ve accomplished and grown over time. And just think: five years from now, you will look back at your current life, and be amazed at how far you’ve come. 

What is your intention?

When you’re having a bad day with your goals, your first thought is to want to give up on them or to berate yourself for your lack of progress.

When things are looking down and out, it’s time to look to your intention. Your intention can help you reconnect with your goal and why you’re pursuing it in the first place. 

If you’re not sure what your intention is then break out your journal and start doing some self-reflection.

Ask yourself: Why am I pursuing this goal? What do I hope to get out of this goal? What do I want to feel when I pursue this goal?

Some examples of your intention can be…

  • I want to empower myself. 
  • I want to create a community.
  • I want to spread joy.
  • I want to make my family proud.

And when things get tough and progress is slow, you can look to your intention as your north star. It will remind you that you are heading in the right direction. That you are exactly where you should be.

Written by JiJi Lee

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