When we invest in our personal growth journey, we usually focus our energy on learning how to be better, do better, and feel better. We strive towards abstract goals by reading self-help books, listening to podcasts, or watching videos about how to “level up” and become an even better version of who we are today. While this drive to continue learning and growing is crucial, we often miss an equally important piece of the journey.
Acknowledging and appreciating how far we’ve come.
As we enter into the new year (and before setting new goals), I decided to give myself some time to reflect on how far I’ve come in my own journey. Instead of focusing on physical successes, I contemplated the mental and emotional progress I’ve made. I urge you to do the same. Think, meditate, journal, or talk about it–whatever feels right for you. I’ve always found my best reflections come through in my writing, so here we go.
Letting go. Wow–how this past year has taught me how to let go. I learned how to let go of control, of expectations for myself and others, of outdated visions for my future, of people and places that no longer served me. Letting go is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I definitely still struggle with it, but I am able to see how much progress I’ve made. I’m not even close to being a monk practicing non-attachment, letting things go with ease and peace of mind, but I’ve certainly inched a tiny bit closer.
Trust. I never realized the lack of trust I had in myself until I finally started to develop it. I learned to trust myself so much more this year. I follow my instincts, even when it seems like no one else understands. I trust myself to take care of my body and mind because I’ve proven to myself that I will. I trust myself to get through things that seem impossible, because time and time again I surprise myself with what I can handle. I trust myself to make good decisions, and to know when to ask for help.
This next “success” may appear as a physical accomplishment, but my real pride comes from the emotional journey that got me there. This year, I gave a speech in front of a couple hundred people. 18-year-old me would’ve been horrified if you told her I would ever do that willingly–or that it was even possible for me to breathe through the nerves and enjoy it. Growing up with severe anxiety meant I “blacked out” most times I had to speak in front of people, even if it was only to raise my hand in class. Giving this speech (and actually remembering it) feels like one of the greatest triumphs because it indicates how much progress I’ve made in working through my anxiety; which I used to think I would be stuck with forever.
When I think of personal growth and self help, these reflections are what it’s all about. Let’s make sure we celebrate the progress and the victories because this is why we do it.
Working on ourselves is a never-ending cycle of growth and pain and love and peace. The progress we make–no matter how small it may seem–is significant. If you’re doing the work to change your behaviors and thought patterns–and it’s making you a better and happier person–then I really hope you’re proud of that.
Here’s to 2023, and all the progress we’ll make (and celebrate) this year.
Written by Jessica Bard.