When Progress is Slow: Finding Patience and Grace in the Journey
Sometimes it seems like real change is so far away that you can't even see its shadow. You're chasing it at breakneck pace only to feel it elude your grasp once more. Why does it seem that progress is so often so slow?
We tend to forget that we've gotten to our current circumstances slowly. It took time for us to learn what we've learned, build the habits that we have, and achieve what we've achieved.
We can't duplicate our success or remedy our mistakes in the blink of an eye.
Progress and change take hard, consistent work. Periodic spurts of energy aren't enough to sustain our goals and dreams. They require constant attention and care, and continual influx of time and effort.
We do ourselves a disservice by thinking that committing to a goal once is enough to sustain us through the hard work required to achieve it. We must regularly recommit ourselves if we hope to be successful in our aims.
Instead of just committing to our goal once and then setting it on autopilot, what would happen if we reconsidered our goal and our ability to take steps toward reaching it on a smaller, more consistent basis?
I think we would feel less pressure and experience less burnout. Old habits seem overwhelming when we consider how powerful they have been for so long. But if we can battle against them in smaller pieces, we can overcome them. We just can't try to bite off more than we can chew.
Our habits won't all change in a day or a week. Some might take a month or two. Some might take a year or more. That's okay. We have to give ourselves grace for the journey.
The best way I've found is to focus on the present, to ask myself, "what can I do right now to work toward my goals, to work toward becoming who I want to be?"
Stop thinking about how hard it’s going to be tomorrow, or next week, or on your family vacation in April. You can’t tell the future. You can’t know what your cravings will be (have they always been persistent and consistent? Probably not); you can’t say how much energy you’ll have to exercise tomorrow. For all you know, you might be stronger and more committed with each passing day. Thinking about the future—and assuming that healthy eating and exercise will always feel as hard as it does now—is where we derive so much suffering when we’re trying to change.
Here’s what you can do instead:
When the feelings of anxiety overcome you, whispering weakness and doubt, stop and ask yourself, “Can I do it right now?”
Can I ride out this craving just for this moment—this hour?
The vast majority of the time, the answer is going to be yes, you can do it now. If you have to crawl through the day minute by minute, hour by hour—asking yourself “Can I do it now?”—do that. Make it through by staying present and committed to the hour in front of you. - Andie Mitchell
We can't go from sitting on our couch all day to running a marathon the next. It's crazy to think that we can get a big promotion without doing the hard work to earn it.
But we don't have to lose steam as we chug along toward our long-term goals. Yes, progress is hard. Getting up day after day and maintaining our determination is difficult. But it's not impossible. We just have to take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
But we can do it! With a little patience and grace for ourselves, we can take consistent steps toward reaching our goals and living our best lives as our best selves. Who's with me?
I'd love to hear how you extend patience and grace to yourself when progress seems slow in the comments! Feel free to share!
The Question to Ask Yourself When You Want to Quit by Andie Mitchell