Have you ever wanted to change something about yourself but struggled because you weren’t sure how to get started or mark your progress?
I certainly have!
Around the New Year, I decided that I want to be a more loving person. As a species, I feel like it’s one of the most important things we can do. But “more loving” is hard to quantify in a way that makes it easy to set up a to-do list and check my progress.
Being more loving is a great goal, but it’s too broad of a category to approach all at once. I needed to find a weak area I could turn into a first step.
So, what’s the answer?
My first step was to be more aware of myself so I could identify the aspects that were less loving than desired.
I did that by asking myself what mental programs and reactive habits influence how loving I am—the judge, the victim, fear, meanness when I’m cornered, anger, jealousy, defensiveness, insecurity, or something else?
I found that there were a few areas where I wanted to change my behavior. A lot of different things go into being more loving and keeping track of all of them would be a logistical nightmare. Going after all of them at once simply wouldn’t work.
Instead, I went after a proven technique when it comes to goal-setting and long-lasting change. I prioritized and focused on only 1 or 2 things. (When there is satisfactory progress with those areas, I can come back and pick 1 to 2 more.)
How do you know if you’re making progress?
Once I picked my priorities, I needed a way to mark my progress. Changing the quality of my life by being more loving isn’t like weight loss where my clothes feel loser if my efforts are effective.
I couldn’t come up with a weekly marker, so I decided to take a daily inventory. Each night, I went through my day, evaluated how many times I followed through with my priorities and how many times I didn’t.
For the times I didn’t, I pictured doing things differently so that my actions were more loving. When I’m in similar situations in the future, I’ll have already thought about a different behavior I can choose.
My goal is to have my daily inventory show improvement via more times of following through and fewer moments of not.
If you’re having trouble starting because you aren’t sure how to quantify a goal into a to-do list:
1. If your goal is too hard to quantify, it’s most likely because there are multiple components to it. The first step is to become aware of those components.
2. Pick 1-2 areas / components that are a priority for you to work on, and come back to the others late (never working on more than 1-2 at a time).
3. Define a way to mark your progress. If weekly markers are too challenging, consider taking a daily inventory.
4. Mentally find a more positive solution for the times you don’t meet your goal. This practice will help you next time you’re in a similar situation.
If you’re interested in learning more about common mental patterns that keep you stuck in the same behavior and results, check out my book: Same Shit Different Day