This morning I weighed the same thing I did two days ago. I know, *gasp!* (Insert sarcasm font/eyeroll).
But it was a weird blow for me, because I’ve been steadily watching my numbers fall over the last month, and I felt annoyed that it was stagnant. And then I spent some narcissistic moments in front of the mirror picking myself apart and thinking about where I want to be in a few months and how far I have to go.
See, the problem with building new habits or learning new skills is that they generally lead to progress, not to a final destination. At least, not for a long while (though I’m more inclined to say never).
Take photography, for instance. I’ve always had an interest in photography. I love having photos of my favorite memories and people and places. Since moving to Utah, I take approximately 2,097,425,923 photos on my phone every week of the mountains, or the sunsets, or the snow, or the wildlife. Then, my husband surprised me with a real camera. A quality camera to capture quality photos. But you know what’s a real bummer about real cameras? They don’t do all the work themselves. Turns out, you actually have to know how to use one to get a good photo. Sure, I can get lucky with autofocus every once in a while, but I still have no idea how to repeat it or why it turned out so great.
So, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos to learn some basics. Then I asked some experts for advice. Then I booked a full-day workshop with a landscape photographer. And I’m looking into some community college courses. And I practice. A LOT. Trying to get a feel for the settings and the lighting and develop an eye for the shot.
I’m making progress. Ultimately, I want to take a photo worthy of printing on a large canvas and hanging on our living room wall, but I know that’s going to take some time. I also hope that ten years from when that happens, I’ll look at that photo and deem it unworthy, only to be replaced by a much better photo I took, because I’ll have improved so greatly. But I have a lot of work to do before then.
The problem with progress is that it’s just that. It literally means, “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” Which means it takes time, and persistence, and patience.
Getting to, or surpassing your “end goal” doesn’t come easy. And that’s a struggle this day in age, probably because of our ability to often get exactly what we want as soon as we want it. Want to watch your favorite movie? Open Netflix and bam. Can’t remember something? Google’s got your back in approximately .15 seconds. Need a ride? Your Uber is 2 minutes away.
So when we have to work for something, we get frustrated that the results aren’t happening as quickly as we’d like them to. Even when we can physically see or feel the progress.
Take a weight loss journey for instance.
You’ve changed your eating habits, you’re consistently working out, you’ve even dropped 10-15 lbs. Those are things you should be proud of. But instead you get in your head. You think it’s not enough, it’s not happening fast enough. You should be seeing more definition, better results on the scale, etc.
But this is a toxic way to think and live. Instead of focusing on how far you’ve come, you’ve shifted the focus to how far you have to go. And that’s just simply not the point. The point is the progress, even when it’s harder and takes longer than you wish it did. Even when you screw up and have to start over. Which brings me to grace.
We could all stand to give ourselves (and each other) a little more grace. We’re all just here for a stint doing the best we can. Making mistakes, and (hopefully) learning from them.
Every day’s another chance to blow it, right? But what if we looked at every day as another chance to do better, instead? To stop beating ourselves up when we slip up. Whether you’re learning to play an instrument in your teenage years, earning a degree as a working adult, trying to navigate the newness of motherhood in your 30s, or you’ve committed to living a healthier lifestyle in your 60s, it’s going to take a whole lot of grace.
If one day is really, truly, hard and you feel like giving up and don’t have the energy to keep going? Fine. Give yourself the grace to say, “It wasn’t meant to be today…but I’ll pick it back up tomorrow.” That’s still progress. Dare I say “prograce”? Grace, my friends. All part of the process of building a better you.
Need some grace this lovely Monday?
If you could use a delightful pick-me-up and want to be both inspired and enchanted, have a listen to the talented Maggie Rogers. This song has been bringing me joy for a couple weeks now – hope you like it!
“And I’m finding out there’s just no other way. That I’m still dancing at the end of the day.”
P.S. My apologies for “prograce.” These things sound better in my head than they look on paper, where there’s no one to whom I can say, “Eh? See what I did there?”