It's the end of January and lots of us are coming to terms with the difference between how we thought we were going to start out the year and how we actually started out the year. If you stuck to a new habit or resolution through the month -- good for you! Most people don't get to the end of January with their resolutions still in place. If that's you, you aren't alone. And you haven't failed.
We set ourselves up for failure when we think we can start from zero, make all the changes we need to and achieve success with 0 setbacks in one month. That's not what the change process looks like. Change is neither linear nor exponential -- it is full of ups and downs. Forward progress and setbacks. Success and failures.
Forming new habits and changing unhelpful behaviors involves rewiring our brain and creating new neural networks-- a process that necessarily requires time and repetition. Obstacles like a loss of motivation, difficulty establishing new routines, or not seeing progress can all make it hard to keep going. That's not a personal failure, that's part of being a human. Change is hard and that's ok!
It's so easy to think of our resolutions or goals in black and white. We either achieved them or didn't. We either stuck it out or we gave up. Especially if we get stuck on a timeline, like being a new person by the end of January. Instead of thinking "Did I do it all by the end of January" ask yourself "What progress have I already made in the first month of the year?"
As the famous Lao Tzu quote reminds us, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And you don't have to wait to get to the thousand miles to acknowledge (and celebrate!) the steps you made along the way.
January 31st is an arbitrary deadline. You have forever to make the changes you want to. You can always keep working on new habits. There's no day where you have to have it all figured out. So whatever you are working on-- keep plugging away at it! Step by step. When progress doesn't feel as fast as you want it to be, step back and make sure you are acknowledging the forward movement. Change is hard, but it is a lot harder when we expect a sudden transformation instead of a process. Slow change doesn't mean you are doing it wrong!
(And you're already enough exactly as you are in this moment, whether you make those changes or not.)