"on numerous times I have cut off the branches of potential from myself when success was likely near and in season"
For all its hype, for all the books written, history gone by and for all its tales: ‘self help’, ‘bettering ones self’ or ‘self improvement’ is a jolly hard task to keep track of. As somebody that’s been interested in sharpening hard and soft skills throughout my life, I am a culprit of not tracking progress. You would think it would matter a lot but it gets put on the back burner.
Some of you will be like me and relate that most the reason we want to improve ourselves is because we don’t like what we see in the mirror. With time and maturity the dissatisfaction of the reflection becomes less the focus and more about benefiting others in the larger picture. Nonetheless, maintaining the discipline of keeping track is vital for everyone involved.
Our apple tree is starting to bud and will soon be on its way to being ‘good for food and pleasing to the eye’ (Minus the cunning serpent). It’s not garden of Eden status for presentation but It took me be surprise one day as my wife pointed out its progress. It suddenly looked more feature-full and taller. It’s branches pointed, curled out in different directions and green is appearing in spots. Before I could walk past it as if it were just a bundle of sticks.
This is like personal growth. From seed to shoots to branches to buds to fruit – everything takes time and if we know nothing of correct documenting – we dig into our goals, mistaking the plants for the weeds.
It is surprising how far we’ve come when we actually pay attention, when we seek the encouragement from the records themselves, showing that things probably aren’t that bad. Once the evidence of looming fruit appears our attitude proudly pats it’s own back. Months, I would of glared at our tree’s bareness and doubted it’s lasting chances of survival – but turns out to be further along than once thought. Watering it was not in vain.
I should of kept track of it, similarly with my own personal development goals. I would perhaps not of obtained as much doubt over myself, being on the brink of giving up daily. Certainly on numerous times I have cut off the branches of potential from myself when success was likely near and in season. There would be room for realistic expectations between the many stages of growth, to where transformation might happen any day.
Some of my own examples of this were of sports, musical instruments, public speaking or just general self belief as a kid. In my adult life it’s been more about social courage, bravery to make friends and persistence to shoot for my dreams. In all of these, practice wouldn’t of felt pointless and learning wouldn’t be such a stab to my ego, if I relied a little more than just my mental notes. Mere memories have a way of recounting things in worse light than what they actually were. This is especially true of those whose worse critic are themselves and are not gracious to the time-line of growth, relevant to them.
How we track progress on anything is an endless point of discussion and is largely about preference. As alluded above, keeping everything a mental note is a hazard to stint our goals. We must consider a more concrete method. There is note taking, journaling, metric analytics, timelines, video documentation, audio tracks, accountability partners – the list goes on. How extreme you take it is also up to you. The desire should be to gather enough information to give you the basic tracking information and over time the boost of the ‘positive feedback’ loop from the progress.
One must also be aware that the progress of your goals depends on it’s type. My apple tree grows at a different rate to a bamboo tree. A rose bush will be different from an oak tree and an oak tree may take it’s time more than a weeping willow. Be patient with yourself. Be kind and don’t lose heart sooner than you need to.
Keep track of your branches. Fruit might arrive sooner than you think.