Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is almost here, and it’s inspiring this kind of thinking for me. Of course I see lots of room for improvement!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about how we want to improve ourselves. Before you make any resolutions, take time to slow down and reflect deeply on what you’ve accomplished in the past year.
Some of you are squirming right now, thinking that you haven’t accomplished much of anything this year. That’s a lie. It’s a lie that your mind tells you to keep you from being your brightest and most beautiful self. Denying your accomplishments of the past will set you up to fail in the future.
Don’t eclipse the good you’ve done in your rush to look at the areas you still need to work on. There will be always room for improvement but we don’t build ourselves by self-flagellation!
Believe me, you’ve done plenty to feel good about this past year. Have you improved your character in some way? Become more compassionate? Learned to honor your boundaries? Increased your self-awareness? Made time for self-care?
Have you met a goal or completed a project on any scale? Spent more time with family and friends? Improved a skill? Developed a hobby or begun exercising? Improved your nutrition? Gotten rid of some clutter?
Sometimes others can see your changes more clearly than you can. I helped someone who was discouraged with her goals for the coming year and what she saw as her lack of progress. She only saw the mountain ahead of her that still needed to be climbed – she couldn’t see how far she had climbed up the mountain! I reminded her of where she was a year ago, the things she was struggling with then, and gave examples of areas in which I saw significant growth. She had almost forgotten those struggles and had taken for granted the huge leaps she’s made in a year!
When you can see the ways you’ve advanced over the past year, it encourages you to continue! Growth usually happens slowly and steadily over time and you don’t notice it happening until time has passed; then you look back and say, “Wow, I don’t do that bad habit as much anymore.” Or, “I’ve changed my outlook in this way.” Or, “Hmm, I accept myself more than I did last year.”
The challenge with subtle growth is that it’s too easy to overlook all that you’ve done right and think nothing has happened. Be conscious of your growth, acknowledge your efforts, and be proud of yourself!
Once you’ve done this, you have a solid and truthful foundation to build on for the coming year!