By Rosa Perez, LCSW-C
With the arrival of spring, we may all feel the familiar inspiration and excitement to establish new beginnings. These beginnings often include improving on things that we felt we did not accomplish in the previous year. These new goals often relate to our mind, body, and spirit and the ways in which we would like to improve, modify, and renew them.
In our fast paced culture, where a few seconds of internet delay can feel like a lifetime, we are tempted to measure (and expect) achievement more quickly than ever before, despite change continuing to take its good-natured time, as it always has. As a result, it is no wonder that we can feel incredibly dissatisfied with the slow, day-to-day steps toward goals which may take weeks, months, or years to achieve. So, during this spring renewal, let us all consider not only our goals for change and personal achievement, but also shifting how we measure “success” in our daily life.
Below are a few tips to help you consider new ways to evaluate your achievements:
Intentions vs. Goals: Goals are those future-oriented, external achievements to which you may strive. Intentions, however, come from guiding principles for how you want to be and what you want to experience. They are lived each day, keep you focused on the present and change how you relate to yourself, regardless of whether your goals are achieved. Consider setting intentions – alongside your goals – to more closely measure the small changes within yourself as you look towards the future.
Make small, achievable intentions: Our brains are wired toward the novelty of big change, therefore long-term goals that delay gratification might seem too far away to measure. Instead make small, attainable intentions for each day/week in order to feel more connected to your distant goal. Example: Goal: “I want to lose weight.” Intention: “I will care for my body today by choosing healthy food options.” Let your intentions and goals work together!
Find your supports: Find a friend, loved one, or connection to safely support your intentions and goals. Having others gently support your personal accountability by way of encouragement can help you more mindfully attend small changes that you might otherwise miss in the race to meet the finish line.
Give recognition: Remember to acknowledge your accomplishments. Many of us will readily do this for children as they learn and grown, but we will often forget that this technique also helps adults learn and grow as well! Just as a seed needs water and light to grow, so too does a goal require praise and kind nourishment to thrive.
Change is an exciting, creative process that can be a richly cultivated and valued path toward growth. In reframing how we measure our definitions of success and achievement, we are able to slow down our rush, remembering that the journey toward a goal can be as significant as the destination.
Rosa Perez, LCSW-C, is part of the Therapy Services team at JCS.
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.