Four stone steps, with brown facing on the lower 3 and the top facing is a black color with white stone for the tops of the steps

With January 1st 2022 quickly becoming a distant memory it can be hard to stay excited about our goals for the year. What seemed new and fresh is now routine and boring, especially with the short days, cold weather and dreary feel of winter. On some days it may seem like no movement is occurring towards the goals we chose. If we don’t feel we are making progress it is all too easy to set aside the goal and fall back into old habits. We want to be better but doing better can be overwhelming.

View of shoes displayed on top of shelves, with shelves of boxes shoes on the sides

We are also surrounded by stories on television, movies and in books that have satisfying resolutions after challenges that are always overcome by the heroes of the story. What we forget is stories are meant to keep us engaged, to share an idea while skipping over the boring parts. Stories allow us to simplify a complex world and find ways to make sense of random events. They can inspire us, stories should not be used as an example we have to live up to.

Close up of the top of a greyish brown cat's paw against a blurred white background

Instead, progress occurs as a series of small steps, a slow moving forward that can appear to be no movement at all. As we mark off the days on the calendar, it seems like nothing is happening, even though we are continuing the hard work, practicing the skills we need to get to the next level. Perhaps it would be better to take a longer view, to look at our progress over the last few months instead of the last few minutes, hours or days. We need to take time to celebrate our progress, no matter the amount. My grandmother told me I should compare against my past self instead of comparing against others people’s progress. With that comparison I look at my progress and I can take pride in my improvements, no matter how small they are.

Pictures by J.T. Harpster. Prints of selected photos can be purchased at our Redbubble shop.

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