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Often times, the person we’re hardest on in this life is ourselves! We set high goals or we have lofty expectations, which can lead us to feel disappointed when we come in with lesser achievements and accomplishments. Perhaps we’re in the process of reaching for more, of going for grander distances, pursuits, and for more overall. We might have wanted to hit some higher mark or reach some bigger result, but we mustn’t forget what baby steps or giant leaps we did take in pursuit of those goals! 

Yesterday, I was wanting to swim a significant distance. I planned on doing a distance swim which would have kept me moving towards an end goal I have for this season’s accomplishments. Last Summer, I had worked up to slightly over two miles of non-stop lap swimming in my pool by the end of the swimming season. I was thrilled to have reached that significant measured distance without stopping! So, this Summer, when the swimming season began back in May, I set out to beat my distance of last year. As of July 4th, just a few days ago, I reached the two-mile mark for non-stop lap swimming in my backyard pool! Pleased as punch with hitting that measurement, I will now endeavor to exceed that goal in my swimming for the remainder of the Summer. In pursuit of that goal though, yesterday’s swim was not as rewarding! I had to stop at 60 lengths of non-stop swimming, as I just ran out of steam before even hitting half a mile! I surely hadn’t fueled my body with proper nutrition for a longer swim. 

With such a brief swim in comparison to my two-mile swim just days ago, I felt disappointed and discouraged afterward. How was it that I could only do so few lengths of the pool just two days later? Well, in hindsight, I realize I am being really hard on myself for disparaging the swim I did yesterday. After all, those lengths I did swim without stopping still are significant! Yes, I wanted to do more, but I just couldn’t. However, I did swim anyway, which was better than not swimming at all! And I pushed myself during those 60 lengths of the pool, so I did give myself a workout in the process, although an abbreviated one compared to the longer swim I had planned on doing! Each swim does contribute to my overall conditioning and my training goals, after all. I just need to accept each day’s efforts as being worthwhile! Going easier on myself is key.  

It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves for not doing more or for not reaching interim goals we’ve set for ourselves. We forget to look at those interim steps we’re taking as being meaningful to the overall end goal. Every single step, no matter the size, is still getting us closer to something bigger. Every single time we participate in our pursuits, we’re developing literal or figurative muscles, which do help us perform more the next time! In my example, I am developing those literal swimming muscles and building my endurance, even if the distances I want to do aren’t always exceeding the last swim I actually did. And, each swim I take keeps me fit and ready for more, as my muscles remember the efforts both greater and lesser. 

We must remember to look at all the steps we’re taking as being successful, in that we’re moving consistently towards a goal ahead, even if some steps are baby-size and others are giant leaps! Each is a contribution towards reaching a goal we deem important for our lives overall! Remember to assess your progress in a way which is more accepting of the baby steps as well as the giant leaps. In doing that, you will be better able to contain your disappointment, to manage your progress, and to preserve your sense of encouragement along the way! Goals are always something we’re working towards, and in my case, even though I hit the goal of swimming non-stop consistently for two miles, I will want to see how much further I can swim non-stop anyway! My goal is inevitably a sliding one, and so my progress should be measured in turn – via sliding steps and flexible efforts! As long as I don’t give up because I don’t always hit my mark, I’m still moving forward towards reaching some end! Baby steps or giant leaps, I’m still making progress!