You don’t make a five-year plan for your inner work. You don’t set up goals and deadlines and milestones so you can acknowledge your progress. You simply allow inner growth to happen. It can be a bit unnerving if you have been in the habit of planning things out.
How to set inner goals
I sat down to set up some quarterly inner goals that I could break down into monthly objectives. I immediately saw how truly different it is to “plan” for personal development. The first goal I set is to “Soften my footsteps in life.” I know what that means to me. I’m naturally enthusiastic and I sometimes come on too strong. So “soften my footsteps” means listening before I speak, being present in stillness long enough to absorb the meaning behind a person’s words, and to not feel I need to be so active in everything. I want to show up and quietly make a difference.
Another goal I set for myself was allowing. I want to learn to let life unfold and trust that I can shape events as they come. My work is cut out for me. How do I set up specific steps? How do judge how I’m doing?
How to track your inner progress
The first way I set up to track my internal progress is to journal, to write down my small successes and to continually be aware of how I’m doing – am I moving forward in centered stillness? How often? Why and when do I lose my contentedness? Did I allow an event to unfold or did I have a grand plan in place before it even happened? You have to be aware of your moment-to-moment choices. You need to consciously align yourself with your inner goals throughout your day.
How to set up an inner development action plan
Get creative when it comes to setting up your inner development action plan. I identified a few things I can do to help me develop greater stillness as I go about my day.
I learned Transcendental Meditation 45 years ago. I always meditate but I go through periods of not using the TM mantra. I began to use the mantra and make certain I meditate 20 minutes twice a day.
I studied yoga in New York City and even took a teachers training. I had been exercising while watching television. To encourage stillness, I now exercise in silence. The only thing I can measure is that I do it daily and notice how flexible I become.
I’ve read inspirational material all my life. I became a licensed spiritual counselor and helped many others. Now this inner work is for me. I’m studying the Steven Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching. I’m absorbing its message into my consciousness and living it in my life. I’m examining and questioning my beliefs. There is no way to measure that. There are no milestones to mark. You simply do it and change happens. Find some physical plane actions you can take that will help you achieve your inner development goals.
Use your feelings as a milestone
For me, a journal may help me track my progress, not to review and notice what things happened, but to go within and see what I’m thinking and feeling. Each night I offer gratitude for three things that happened during the day. That helps me focus on the good that surrounds me and attracts more positive experiences to me. I also offer daily gratitude for three things I appreciate about myself. That will help my self-esteem. How do you feel during your day? Slow down and take time to feel your progress.
Look at your reflection in others
The most important place I can see my own progress is in the faces of others, the people I interact with, the people I care about. My changes reflect in them. Our relationships deepen. We give more of ourselves to each other more. Your inner change is mirrored in the world around you.
Acknowledge your progress
You may have to look carefully in order to see a “milestone” of progress; it may only be a few steps along your chosen path. Do take time to notice the changes you make and the successes you have. At the end of each day ask yourself, “What am I taking away from this day?” Sometimes it is gratitude, sometimes a lesson you needed to learn, sometimes it is a seed planted that will grow more tomorrow. Reflect on your day. Notice and acknowledge your progress.
Subtle change is happening all the time. When you set out to make change in your inner world you will have to look for your results in your outer world. Journal your thoughts. Immerse yourself in your interactions. Tune into the energy of those around you. Look for the signs and signals that the Universe provides. Practice mindfulness. Be present in the now of each moment. That’s how you measure the quiet progress of inner growth.