In the early and middles stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment. You expect to make progress in a linear fashion and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks and even months. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.” –James Clear in Atomic Habits
James Clear so beautifully describes a very normal human experience, the “Valley of Disappointment”.
I should be over this by now!
Why haven’t I lost the weight yet?!
At this rate we won’t be debt free for 20 years!
They are just more talented than I am?
Setting goals is always the easy part. Figuring out how to accomplish those goals is challenging. Even more challenging is staying true to the behaviors needed to accomplish the goals when you are in the “Valley of Disappointment”.
Making Peace that there are no Overnight Successes
I have a question for you. Do you believe in overnight success?
Most people love stories of overnight success. It gives them hope and feeds the idea that accomplishing big goals is not only achievable, but can also be done with ease and simplicity.
Sadly, believing in overnight success can lead people into impatience and make them more vulnerable to emotional irregularity. Additionally, the belief that overnight success is real can make taking unethical shortcuts highly attractive.
What Success Really Looks Like
As James Clear writes in his book, success really is less about goals and more about the systems we put in place to accomplish our goals. Going even deeper, it’s about consistently showing up to those systems everyday.
Success looks like:
- Coming up with action plans.
- Showing up when all you want to do is watch Netflix.
- Having to consistently refocus when distractions appear.
- Saying no and feeling unpopular.
- Saying no and causing disappointment.
- Feeling insecure.
- Not feeling ready to take on new challenges.
- Sometimes, talking yourself or others down off of a cliff.
- Feeling like you are doing everything wrong.
Let’s be real. Success is not glamorous until the goal is met and if you are not prepared for the “Valley of Disappointment” you are going to think you are doing this whole success thing wrong.
Preparing for the Valley of Disappointment
As horrible as this “Valley of Disappointment” can sound, there is immense beauty and value to it. So many life lessons are learned in this valley and huge amounts of self awareness can blossom in this valley. Best friends can be made, life partners found and figuring out who you truly are is easiest in this valley.
Holding tight to these blessings is crucial to navigating this valley. However, preparing yourself even further by asking the following questions can turn what could be an excruciating experience into an highly tolerable and even pleasant reality.
Self Reflection Questions to prepare for the “Valley of Disappointment”
- Do I believe in overnight success?
- Is the belief of overnight success sabotaging my potential for current success?
- How can I dig deeper to see the amount of work that went into the success of those I admire?
- When I am in the “Valley of Disappointment” what actions can I take that are encouraging to me?
- Who do I need to surround myself with to make the disappointment not only easier but also a valuable experience for me?
- When I am feeling sad, overwhelmed or disappointed what movies or quotes can help me healthfully cope?
- What songs can help fire me up when I am struggling with motivation?
- List 3 places that bring me peace and recenter me?
- How can I evaluate the behaviors I am taking in achieving my goal?
- How can I remind myself that success doesn’t come quickly when I am feeling vulnerable?
- What are my best self care approaches and am I being consistent with them?
- Am I loosing focus and if yes, what can I do to get my focus back?
- Have I normalized that achieving success is going to take time, patience and perseverance?
- Do I celebrate others success? How can I be more celebratory of others success?
- Am I checking in with how I feel often enough?
- Am I expressing my feelings to trusted people?
- How can I remain confident when I am faced with disappointment?
Have you ever struggled to find a journal with thought provoking questions that helps you better understand yourself? Look no further, a Journal for Self Discovery starts you on the path to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with yourself. With 100 thoughtful questions that will immediately start to bring you clarity into what is most important to you.
Additionally, I am not a licensed therapist. I am however trained in Motivational Interviewing and have passion for helping others better understand their emotions. Please check out the other articles on this website for more self reflective questions and for more resources on accomplishing goals with good habits check out jamesclear.com.
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