Committing to change a habit, a pattern or a belief about ourselves is HARD work. The decision to make the change is a long, arduous dialogue with our inner selves. When we finally embark on the journey to make the change, it’s easy to feel unmotivated or completely give up when we don’t see progress, because of that, I’ve discovered some key milestones to celebrate along the way!
In my personal effort to create new habits and let go of self-limiting beliefs, I’ve quit many times only to find myself wanting to start over again. After a few times of starting, stopping and restarting, I am now trying a new way to keep myself motivated along the journey. This involves naming key milestones to celebrate on my personal growth journey so I can show myself how much progress I’ve made even when I feel nothing has happened or I’m stuck.
While there are many ways to define your progress, these are the three key three milestones that I like to celebrate.
The 21st Day
I love the number 21 because in today’s culture we’ve made it synonymous with change and growth. If you commit to a change for 21 days, there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll continue practicing it until it eventually becomes a habit. If that doesn’t convince you, in numerology, 21 signifies success, completion and the fulfillment of a desire. This is why I love marking the 21st day when I’m working on a new habit, like incorporating a new exercise in my workout routine.
Getting to 21 doesn’t seem as daunting as a full month. It also allows me to focus on one day at a time because if you start at the beginning of the month, you still have 10 or 11 days left in the month to feel accomplished and continue with your journey.
The ‘Middle of The Tunnel’ Feeling
When we’ve made it past the first 21 days and we’re still continuing along our journey, we’re bound to have days where we feel frustrated or it feels like we’re stuck in the middle of a deep, dark tunnel and we don’t know when we’re going to walk out on the other side.
I’ve had many moments like this, especially when I was struggling to stay on track with a consistent workout schedule. That’s a point in my journey when I’ve always had to take a big step back to see how far I’ve come. It may seem like there hasn’t been a change or it’s slow, but when I’ve turned around in this theoretical tunnel, this shift in perspective has always shown me how much progress I’ve made.
For me, that was seeing how consistently I had started working out and how much more energy I had. These are small changes but taking a step back to see them motivated me to keep going instead of getting impatient and quitting, which is what I would have done in the past. I am much farther along my journey than when I first started out; even though I still have a ways to go, I can walk through the tunnel with the knowing that I am eventually going to get to the destination of reaching my goal weight. Do you have any practical tips/reflection questions you ask in this phase to help you focus on the bigger goal?
The First ‘Aha Moment’
This is the part when things really start to get real. When we walk out of the tunnel and we start to see the light, we’re so busy focused on maintaining our new change, that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Inevitably, there’s always a moment where you find yourself thinking differently or choosing to react differently after what seems like an exorbitant amount of time working on the change.
That’s what I call the first ‘aha moment’ because you realize you’ve reacted or chosen differently in a moment where you could have reverted to your old way of doing something.
For me this was when I realized I was actively choosing to work out instead of sleeping in and had made working out a mandatory part of my day. But this could also be when you realize you’re reacting differently in a moment without even trying instead of getting angry or impatient. This is a moment to reward yourself! It means you’re integrating the change that you want to make into your life without thinking too much about it. We don’t pay much attention to these small moments, but they are huge. And we need to celebrate them more often.
I have definitely struggled to change habits and patterns that I know aren’t serving me well over the years. There are days and moments where I still and will struggle, but I am happy to always celebrate progress over perfection. Thinking about these 3 milestones to reward myself along the way has kept me motivated, even when giving up was the easy and comfortable choice. What are some of the ways you reward yourself on your journey? Leave a comment below!