In my previous article, I spoke extensively about unspoken factors around change.
One item I briefly mentioned was the issue with the stages of growth. Mainly, changing our lives is not a linear process. One day we are headed in the right direction; a week later, things can go the opposite way.
I wanted to write more about this point because it can cause stress for those when trying to go forward in life.
Much of what most folks want revolves around completing something in the shortest amount of time possible. Hence, many articles on the internet state how to lose weight within 30 days or learn a new language in a month.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to learn things as efficiently as possible.
However, the expedited timeline can trigger people to quit the behavior altogether if they do not succeed in the prescribed amount. Instead of accepting that some people can do things faster than others for various reasons, you get a one size fits all template for prospering.
This can trigger unrealistic goals and set the stage for failure.
My attempt to learn a new language has followed the pattern of working on it for a couple of years and then stopping before I acquire the skill due to frustration. Although, once I eliminated the timeline to master the language, I have not quit and continued to learn. Respecting my own process to comprehend a language and refusing to follow someone else’s model has helped significantly.
The same issue can appear for people trying to overcome more serious concerns like anxiety or depression.
For instance, many people initially see a reduction in mental health symptoms after taking medication for the disorder, meeting with a psychologist, or treating the issue with holistic methods.
Only for the symptoms to return a time later and thus causing disappointment.
While the idea of permanently getting rid of something as debilitating as anxiety or depression would be optimal, it is usually unrealistic. I’m sure there are unique individuals who, after receiving treatment, never experience the symptoms again, but that is not the norm.
The trick becomes gaining more control over time by coping with the symptoms and therefore reducing their impact on your life.
Eliminating whatever our specific struggles are would, in a perfect world, happen for everyone. Unfortunately, this will not occur for all of us. The practical solution comes down to getting better at mitigating the pain.
Putting pressure on ourselves to measure success only if we never experience the issue again is a recipe for disaster.
This can influence a person to give up on getting help at all. The measuring stick for progress should extend far beyond whether somebody relapses. A better evaluation would constitute looking at the improvement one has made. Or have you avoided making matters worse?
Answering those questions is a far more reasonable inquiry into achievement than the appearance of past symptoms.
Don’t let the reappearance of old habits deter you from moving forward. Understand that relapsing is usually a part of the stages of change. Learn from the episode and then continue back on your path to progress.
How have you overcome the tendency to judge success based on perfection?
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!