When you’re working towards any type of goal or change, a key part of long term success comes from your ability (or super-ability) to trust the process and have faith in yourself.
Once you are clear on the why, what and how of your goal, then it becomes about continuously “doing the work” that will get you there and reviewing progress as you go. Sounds simple right?
Success is very rarely linear
One of the frustrations of change is that success is very rarely linear. This is especially true when it comes to any kind of human or biological aspect (i.e. work, relationship, fitness or health goals).
In fact, progress on “outcomes” can often appear sporadic. Paradoxically, getting to and sustaining these outcomes usually requires a consistent focus on changing daily habits and behaviours. In other words, you need to consistently “do the work” yet not consistently expect results. And that can be hard!
One of my biggest areas of personal development areas over the past few years has been how I think and act during the times when I know and feel that I am doing the right work, but i’m not experiencing obvious short term results.
I’m not talking about situations where you’re not clear on what you’re doing or truly adhering to your own plan. I’m talking about the times when you honestly believe you’re doing the right stuff yet it’s not showing up.
- You’re focussing on losing weight. You feel you’re doing the right stuff to create change but the scale is not moving (or it’s going up!)
- You’re following a new program to improving your run time or lift heavier weights but have performed worse in your last few sessions.
- You’re working on a big project at work. You’ve been able to make progress in most areas however you’re now experiencing delays that feel outside your control, or haven’t been able to get the sign off you need.
A cycle of self-sabotage
Previously, it was during these times I would struggle. Instead of patiently trusting the process and believing that “I’ve got this” I would start to self-sabotage.
I would start to think things such as:
- It’s not working…what’s the point?
- I don’t have time for this…
- I have failed
- I really need to step things up and make bigger changes to what I’m doing…
- I need to do more / work more / spend more time / use more resources…
- I’m behind…I’m off track…this is going badly…
This type of thinking would often lead to negative or unhelpful behaviour. In a work context, this would involve panicking and going into overdrive (causing unnecessary stress for myself and others). In relation to weight loss and fitness goals it it would often lead me to giving up and/or doing things that were definitely going to get me off track! (i.e. big weekend blowouts).
Of course, in the examples above there are many different reasons you may not be seeing the results. More often than not, positive change is actually already occurring – however it takes time for you to be able to objectively detect the change.
New ways of thinking: trust, faith and patience
So what do I do now? What super-abilities have I developed?
Firstly, I have developed new ways of thinking that I focus on. Here are a few of them:
- Be kind and patient with yourself – you know change takes time. Ride it out.
- You’re doing what you believe is the right stuff and you know your stuff. Stick with it.
- Most change will occur below the surface – you can’t see it now but you will reap the benefits later.
- Your goal / desired outcome / project is big and requires “hard work”. You can’t expect overnight results. It will be worth seeing it through.
- Focus on the big picture – you have time to be patient! If you’re truly not seeing results in a few weeks, then change things up.
- What is the worst thing that can happen if you keep doing this? (Often the risk of continuing is far less than we think).
Through this thinking and a few “conscious leaps of faith”, I’ve built a greater ability to trust the process and believe that I’m on track. Trust my gut, trust my knowledge, trust I know my stuff, and then have faith this will lead to positive outcomes eventually. This involves not wasting time and energy digging for immediate or concrete evidence that adds little value in the short term. Faith is knowing and believing in something without evidence. Having faith in yourself takes conscious practice. It can be uncomfortable to start with but over time it becomes easier and more natural.
Of course this can still be very challenging (especially when stakes are high) but these days I’m far more willing to give ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ a go and see out longer periods without getting results. Accepting that results are not linear and backing myself through the process has helped me build the resilience to ride out the ups and downs and not self-sabotage along the way. This in turn has enabled me to achieve greater overall success and satisfaction in the long term.
So next time you feel you’re not getting the results you expect, I encourage you to consider if a little more trust, faith and patience is what might be needed.
Jade Osborne | Lifestyle Coach