Time has been weird in 2020. It’s felt like forever long, and yet, somehow it’s already December! There were months that felt so stagnant, with quarantine and plans put on hold and fear of an unknown virus. But I love this month we have to reflect on our progression in anticipation for the upcoming new year and new goals.
Reflection often involves looking back and seeing how far we’ve come. And once we take time to evaluate how much we’ve changed (or haven’t changed!), we’d like to keep the momentum going. But remember: change requires slow and steady progression. Our souls take time to mold and mend and mature. How can we ensure we’re headed in the right direction and making progress on the daily? Take a minute and ponder these three steps of spiritual progression.
“Be accountable for doing the right things. This means ethical execution of the activities that will actually support the goals you have chosen for yourself” (Sam Silverstein, “No More Excuses”). To recognize changes to your core spiritual self, you’ll need to identify goals and make specific plans. Maybe your soul longs to grow in spiritual knowledge. Read spiritual text. Talk with different religious leaders. Take time to pray and learn from God. All detailed, specific ways to reach this certain spiritual goal. Progression takes planning.
The best way to ensure these spiritual goals are completed? Daily accountability. During one of the most spiritual times of my life, I started each day with prayer and meditation. I told God what I wanted to accomplish that day and then reflected on how to make it happen. Before bed, I would then say a prayer of accountability. I contemplated deep within my soul—how my day had gone, what I could have done better, and how I wanted to improve the next day. I felt a closeness to deity unlike any other time in my life. This experience taught me that the Creator of my soul truly wants to help me progress.
Maybe your daily accountability looks different than mine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Each of our souls is motivated differently and progresses at various rates. Accountability strategies can—and should be—different as well. Tailor your plan to you. Record your goals and steps to achieve them in a planner or chart. Find a partner to help keep you on track. Develop a personal reward system for accomplishing your spiritual goals. Do what works best for you.
Progress: One Step at a Time
I like to think of my spiritual core as a puzzle—individual attributes and characteristics of my spirituality all working together to create my authentic self. Faith. Kindness. Integrity. Service. I could name several more.
When we take the step to grow in our spirituality, we shouldn’t try to tackle all of these pieces at once. Take time to focus on one aspect of your spiritual wellness. As you devote your time and attention to just one attribute, you’ll see greater progression. Master your spiritual study skills. Then strive to add meditation. Little by little, your spiritual “puzzle” will come together.
Author Louis Sachar shared this tidbit of wisdom: “It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” I know often when I want to see positive change in my life, I set unattainable goals and have high expectations. Learn from my mistakes, friend. Start small. Especially in matters of the soul.
Progressing one step at a time will lead to greater inner light and confidence as you complete your goals. Trying to put all of the spiritual pieces together at once will only lead to self-doubt and frustration. Remember: even though we are spiritual beings…we are still human.
Have a Little Grace
Because we are far from perfect—and perfection isn’t expected—it’s important to have a little grace for yourself. When we talk about goals, especially spiritual ones, we want to cross the finish line as quickly as possible. But I believe that it’s more about the process rather than the destination. Trying and trying and trying again makes us just a little more refined. A little more like deity. It proves to your inner self that you are strong and determined. That your spiritual goal deeply matters.
Failure will be part of the progression process. Some days will be extra hard; we’ll feel full of fear and stagnant in our journey. Just like 2020. But I promise this year will end. Your moment of paused progression will come to a halt. Give yourself some grace…and then give it your all and start again.