Making changings in ourselves and our lives involves a lot of determination, motivation, time, and effort. It can be easy to get discouraged, lose motivation, or want to give up along the way, especially when we feel as though we are not making progress and will never reach our goal. In order to stay on track and keep going, it is important to notice and be proud of all the progress along the way, small or large, and not just think about the end point as the most significant aspect. The process can often times be enjoyable, the time we learn the most, especially about ourselves, and a time to be proud of who we are and what we are accomplishing. With a few tips and techniques, reaching a goal and making progress can be easy.

Track Progress: When we are in the middle of a situation, are the ones who are experiencing something, or see ourselves all the time, every day, it can be difficult to notice the progress and positive changes we are making. It is important when you set out to make a change or improve something about yourself to try to document the steps and changes along the way. Say you are trying to save money, keeping a spreadsheet or a document of the money you are saving is a good way to see the numbers in black and white. Maybe you are trying to lose weight or build muscle, of course the scale is a good indicator, but pictures, measurements, and the way clothes fit are a much better indicator of changes and progress. Or maybe you want to manage your anger better, keeping a journal of all the times you didn’t lose your cool, kept calm, and handled the situation in a better way can give you something to look back on and review when you feel that nothing has been changing. It is helpful to be able to see the data for ourselves, whether in writing, pictures, or charts, especially when we are feeling discouraged, and know that we are actually achieving progress and are closer to our goal then when we started.

Acknowledge and Be Proud of Progress, Any and All: For many of us it can be difficult to acknowledge and be proud of the small progresses along the way. We may feel that there is nothing to acknowledge or be proud of until we reach a certain goal or end point, and then we can be happy or celebrate. But we would be amiss to lose sight of the journey and focus solely on the destination. We are always changing, striving to be better, and improving ourselves, which often times leads to new, bigger, or different goals. We need to acknowledge and be proud of all the positive changes and progress along the way, especially since the end can constantly be changing.

Prepare for, Acknowledge, and Embrace Setbacks: Setbacks can and often do happen; it is a normal part of the process. We are all human, we make mistakes, we slip up, we give into temptation, but that does not mean one setback should derail the entire process. Often when a setback happens, people give up and have the mentality that “I messed up, why bother to keep trying, I should just quit.” One setback or mistake does not negate all the progress and changes that have been made. Before we start a process of change or growth we need to prepare and acknowledge that slip ups or mistakes will happen and allow ourselves to acknowledge them without judgment or negativity. More often than not, we can use these situations as a learning tool, to find a new or better way to move on, and to get back on track and keep the progress going. Setbacks will happen, and that’s okay.

Stay Motivated: If you start to feel unmotivated or hopeless that you will never reach your goal, think about why you started. What was it that made you want to make the change? Remembering why we started and why our goal is important to us can help to keep us motivated and to keep pushing on.

Let go and trust the process!