1 step forward and 2 or 3 steps backward! How do you get anywhere?

I’ve found that being focused on the here and now is the answer.

Even when today’s a 1 forward 3 back kind of day!

By being in the present moment, I learn to trust. That makes all the difference in making continuous improvement a reality for me.

Personal growth is a process. As I encourage myself to keep moving forward – I do!

How do you overcome challenges in a 1 step forward 2 or 3 steps backward day?

I find working at it day in and day out, I get a bit of momentum in being able to focus on the here and now. I get a bit of lift from that. Some days that’s enough. Other days, it’s enough to know that some of the other days it’s going to be enough.

I’ve discovered that sticking tight to living in the present moment makes all the difference.

That focus helps everything.

How you pay attention! What you pay attention to!

Indeed, focus changes the perception of what’s going on in life.

Part of the problem is that growth can be hard to see.

It’s that whole experience of looking at the forest versus looking at one tree thing.

Let’s look at that “forest vs tree” analogy for a moment. It’s a good way to understand how to move forward even what you feel a 1 step forward and 3 steps backward thing going on.

Okay, so let’s play a game for a bit. It’s a game of imagination. It only works if you do! So please, really allow your imagination to engage.

Imagine you’re in front of a big forest.

Today, it’s an evergreen forest.

Imagine you’re looking at one tree and focusing on it.

Maybe it’s an especially tall evergreen tree with big heavy green branches swaying in the wind. Perhaps you notice there are great big giant pinecones hanging on each of the branches.

See that tree in your mind’s eye.

Focus in on that one tree.

You wouldn’t particularly notice the forest around you if you were out in nature walking around for real, would you?

No! Your attention would be filled with that one tree.

Now imagine you’re in front of a big forest again.

Imagine that forest. Focus on the experience of that whole forest.

In your mind’s eye, immerse yourself in the feeling of being in the forest.

Maybe you notice the quiet around you. No people, no machines…

Perhaps you begin to feel a sense of wildlife around you as birds or squirrels dart about.

You may begin to hear quiet birdcalls far above you.

You might feel a gentle crunch of pine needles beneath you as you walk around, experiencing the whole forest.

You wouldn’t especially notice one tree if you were out in nature focusing on the experience of being aware of the whole forest, if you were walking around for real would you?

You wouldn’t notice details of any one individual tree.

No! Your attention would be filled with the experience of the whole forest.

Your own self-improvement, your own personal growth, is like that.

You’re not aware of your life’s forward motion from what you’re learning when you’re focused on the 1 step forward or the 3 steps backward.

Yet when you follow your small steps that you’ve set up for yourself, those you’ve identified as what you need to do, you do make progress despite that 1 step 3 step dance.

Because sometimes progress is about you becoming the person who can do that skill you’re gaining.

Not necessarily the technical details of the skill! Sometimes it’s about the discipline surrounding the skill. Other times it’s about building an eagerness to get down to doing it.

But like the forest in the example above, you simply don’t see that progress.

I encourage you to trust that it’s there.

I invite you to keep doing what you’ve identified as what you need to do.

Because it takes a long time to build the habits that go with the routine you’re seeking to build around yourself.

Yes, when you don’t see your progress you can get discouraged. When you’ve got that happening, you might shy away from taking the small steps you need to take.

Because it can feel like you’re not making progress!

Don’t let that fool you into not acting.

Act! Do what you need to do. Ge the compound effect of doing your little steps happening for you.

Because using your focus to guide your growth must be done in the present moment.

Focus isn’t a thing of past or future.

Focus is now. Action is now. Doing is now.

Using your focus to guide your growth can be about encouraging yourself to take another small step. Right now.

Yes, using your focus to guide your growth can be about taking a quick peek at the past. Briefly, today, encourage yourself by looking at what you already have accomplished.

What have you overcome the past 5, 10, even 20 years?

What can you do now that you couldn’t do then? Hey, if you’re 20 you look back 20 years you can see you’ve learned to stand up and take one little step, and then another and another more clearly than someone farther away from that initial experience. But if you’re not 20 you can still see dramatic growth, right?

But keep the looking back stuff short. Don’t get lost in the forest of your past. You don’t need to relive the more than 3 steps back kind of stuff. You just need to see that there’s been positive growth that’s real.

Using your focus to guide your growth can be about pausing a bit to contemplate the future.

Just for a moment, ponder what you’ve got yourself aimed at.

What are your dreams? What are your specific goals that fit today’s actions?

Keep it to a brief pause, though. Don’t wander in the forest of the future either.

Use your focus to guide your growth in the present moment.

Tiny glimpses forward or backward are enough.

Don’t get lost in the forest of the past! Don’t get lost in the forest of the future! You can’t grow there now.

Yet you can grow by what you choose to do now.

Focus on the small steps you’ve identified as being relevant to your goals. Those small steps of yours are the aspects of your life that you’ve noticed are right, for you, for now, as the place to put effort.

The small steps you’ve already identified as being important? Hey, that’s your tree for now.

That’s your where to focus your effort today.

The small steps of your day do day work? They are the pathway towards your dreams!

You can overcome your challenges. Let yourself focus on the present moment. Dare to focus on doing what you need to do to live it well. Then? You’ll tend to move forward despite that 1 forward 3 backwards dance.

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By the way, do you want a boost in how to encourage yourself to keep moving forward? If so, you may want to download my free ebook on that topic by clicking here.

While you're here, you might like to check out Cynthia's blog: Slow Self Improvement Guide.

By the way, here's Cynthia on YouTube lifting you up for your personal development today.