Discover the Joy of Making Progress!

The joy of making progress

Progress – what is it and what does it actually look like?

Merriam Webster defines it this way:

  • A forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal)
  • Gradual betterment

I particularly like how this definition paints progress:

  • Progress is purposefully moving forward towards a goal or state of being; striving less for perfection and embracing more of your potential.

What’s interesting is that progress hinges on moving closer to a target or destination – something you are shooting for! It’s not willy-nilly wandering and hoping you arrive – there’s a direction to it.

What Does Progress Look Like?

Barely noticeable baby steps in the right direction. That’s what it looks like.

Minus progress, I’m stuck. There’s a sense of floundering and frustration. The tasks at hand feel hard and take a great deal of effort. Confusion abounds! It’s like slogging your way through a swamp.

What’s strange is that when I’m successfully moving forward, I don’t always realize it! Progress often takes place gradually, mysteriously, and in a way that’s hard to put your finger on. Minuscule changes, but those tiny changes add up!

It’s a beautiful when you are able to glance back and notice just how far you’ve come!

To complicate matters, the little-by-little shifts are often overshadowed by moments of reverting to old my ways that loom larger. Perhaps you relate, but take heart! Simply noticing that you’ve returned to your old ways is an indicator of progress.

And then there are those hopefully not too rare moments when you realize you are steadily moving forward! It’s wonderful! There’s an ease, a joy! There’s progress!

A Real Example

After contracting Lyme disease in 2016, my physical health rapidly declined over just a few months. Suddenly I was barely able to climb the stairs in my home even though I’d previously walked at a brisk pace the 4-5 miles of hilly terrain in my neighborhood and followed a rigorous workout regimen. It was incredibly disheartening!

Still, I carved out time each day to do yoga…very basic beginner yoga. It felt pathetic in light of what I’d been able to do previously, but I persisted.

The process took nearly three years before my health had improved to the point that I was able to walk slowly, ever so slowly, on my treadmill for five minutes, then ten.

It was a brilliant day when I was able to join my husband and navigate the Riverwalk, which is flat, very slowly. Progress!

Even though I remember the struggle like it was yesterday, it’s been eight years! I’ve persisted, and kept working towards my goal of exceeding my pre-Lyme fitness level. I’m happy to report that I’ve made wonderful progress and I’m able to once again enjoy the hilly neighborhood walk with my husband, and I am stronger than I was before!

I share this example to highlight a couple of points regarding progress:

  • Progress is not easy! It’s a struggle. It requires commitment and effort and determination even when it’s something you really want!
  • It requires a vision, target, goal, or a clear destination. They go hand in hand.
  • Progress is slow! It takes time. Too often, more time than you would like.
  • It’s worth all the blood, sweat, and tears!

Where Would Progress Benefit You?

I hope that you are not dealing with a life-threatening illness like I was! However, I‘m certain there’s an area of your life or your work that is ripe for progress! Where would making progress help you? It’s a big question!

The answers are endless – an area of your life such as your relationships, finances, better work/life balance? An aspect of your career – starting your own business, getting a promotion, developing your leadership skills, getting a job that’s a better fit? Perhaps your habits? Or increasing your income, relying more on God, or becoming more comfortable with conflict. What is it for you?

Think About It This Way

Progress is…

  • Growth – which is about you getting better.
  • Development – which is about becoming different – you changing or learning new skills.
  • Maturity – which is about reacting less and responding more and more appropriately.

Why Does Making Progress Matter Anyway?

1. It Delights Us!

My youngest grandson is now two and recently constructed a very tall castle out of magnetic tiles. His response to successfully building a structure a little taller than the last one was one enthusiastic happy dance!

Making progress is exciting. While you may not break out in a happy dance like my grandson, I bet you’ll be quite tickled and hopefully celebrate even if it is just giving yourself a high five or a pat on the back.

Don’t overlook how not moving forward impacts you! It’s discouraging, devastating, and does absolutely nothing positive for you!

2. It Boosts Your Confidence

Each tiny step forward is encouraging and naturally boosts your confidence. The next castle my grandson built included a garage for cars – another proud moment!

3. It Is Motivating!

Seeing progress and what you are capable of is very inspiring! It’s likely to spur you on to keep going and to take on other challenges! In that sense, progress begets progress. And sadly, the opposite is also true – the lack of progress begets no progress.

Because progress is so motivating, I encourage you to track your progress in a visual way. For you that might be making a happy red “X” each day you work out, tallying the prospecting calls you make, putting a heart on the days you refrain from poking at your spouse, or keeping track of how much you’ve lowered a debt.

4. It Facilitates Learning!

It doesn’t take long to discover that you have a few things to learn when in pursuit of a goal or making a change. Seeking out new information, experimenting, and experiencing some trial and error is all a part of the process which allows you to learn some very valuable lessons along the way!

5. It Equips You!

Each time you make progress you are improving and becoming better equipped and prepared to take on more difficult challenges! That’s a good thing!

6. It Leads to Positive Results!

Ultimately, we want results! Progress is that path we must walk on to get those results – a series of stepping stones. Take note each and every stepping stone – milestone along the way!

What Would Progress Look Like For YOU?

Do you know? This is a critical question!

When reaching a goal takes years, like my recovery process from Lyme, it’s easy to get discouraged along the way and want to give up. Settle. That’s why I encourage you to identify what progress looks like so you recognize it when it occurs. Beware! It often happens in very small incremental and sometimes zig-zaggy steps!

How Do You Speed Up Your Progress?

One of the best ways to pick up the pace when it comes to making progress is to work with a coach. Through the coaching process they are able to identify blind spots, funky thinking, and help you form a strategy for moving forward. They are there to support, encourage, and challenge you every step of the way. Best of all, coaches are often able to spot your progress before you do and are eager to celebrate with you!

Curious about how coaching might play a role in your own progress? Schedule a consultation with me now!

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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