5 Reminders for When You Feel Like Giving Up
Nearly everyone wants to set goals for self-improvement. But nearly everyone also has a hard time achieving those goals. (How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Do you even remember what they were at this point?) Change happens slowly. When you want change to happen quickly, slow change might even seem like no change at all! It can seem like all our efforts are getting us nowhere, and sooner or later we decide to give up.
But now you’re right back where you started, with the same problems that led you to decide to change your habit or mindset in the first place! So don’t give up. Here are 5 things to encourage you through the season of improvement.
1 – Improvement is a process not an event. Changing your habits is not as easy as changing your clothes. Your brain is wired to respond to your past. When you want to change actions or a way of thinking it isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, you have to completely rewire the system—and that takes time! Improvement means you can’t switch out bad habits for better ones. You have to work on getting rid of the bad ones at the same time that you work on adding in the good ones. This overlap can get messy at first, but it’s worth the mess!
2 – The way you achieve your goal can change. As you pursue self-improvement, it is not unusual to discover a problem you have is the result of a different problem. Maybe you originally decided to stop yelling when you get mad, but then you realize that you get angry pretty frequently, and it seems like you’re over-reacting to everyday inconveniences. A better idea then, may be to focus on staying calm and not getting angry in the first place. That slight change of your goal not will fix the original issue of yelling, but it takes care of the root problem as well!
3 – Strive for improvement, not perfection. Maybe you’ve been doing a really good job and you feel like you’ve almost achieved your goal — and then you have a bad day and find yourself back at some of your bad habits. It can be easy and think “I won’t be able to ever actually achieve that goal. Maybe I’m just trying to become someone I’m not,” and give up. But isn’t that the whole point of self-improvement anyway? To start being the person you want to be but aren’t—yet? You may never keep your goal 100% of the time, but that’s not an excuse to give up on it. Even though a grade C in school isn’t ideal, a C is still better than an F!
4 – Failure is the tool to your success—not the proof that you never will succeed. The way you respond and act the majority of the time will determine the type of person you are. So, if you still slip up every once in a while, it’s not the end of the world! It doesn’t mean you’re a failure! Sometimes life is difficult and complex and, whether you mean to or not, our poor judgement can cause us to make a mistakes. Those moments can better prepare you for the future. So next time, you will respond differently and get a better outcome.
5 – Recognize and celebrate progress. You can (and should) celebrate your achievements before you reach your goal. Self-improvement is hard, and just deciding every day to try is something you should be proud of. Maybe you’re disappointed because you got angry about something that didn’t even impact your day in the long run. Being able to recognize the moments where you overreact is the first step to improving that behavior. Or, maybe you still yelled half the time you got angry this week. This means you remained calm the other half, maybe you never would have done that before. Remember, improvement is the goal, not perfection!
Remember, you’ve got this! You are capable of achieving your goals, and just recognizing the need to set them means you’re doing better already!