When it's hard to see the progress you're making
I've been thinking a lot recently about the image below. This is the work of Jack Butcher, a prolific presence on Twitter (@jackbutcher) with a knack for visually communicating important insights in a minimalist fashion.
I love all of Jack's stuff. But this one hits me in a different way.
We're all struggling for something. Trying to get better. Trying to make progress.
But sometimes when we're in the thick of it, it can feel hopeless. Pointless. It can feel like we're on a never-ending treadmill that leads exactly nowhere.
Maybe it's in our careers. We show up day-in and day-out. But receive no more responsibility, no more money, no more respect.
Maybe it's in our physical fitness. We run or walk or lift weights or try to eat healthier. But when we look in the mirror we see no change.
Maybe it's even in our parenting. We try, and try and try to teach them. But they don't listen. And we wonder "Am I failing at this?"
It's so hard to see the progress when we're in the middle of it.
Maybe it's because that progress does not often announce itself.
We have milestones, for sure.
We earn a big promotion. We hit our target weight. Our kids graduate.
And those are important. And we should celebrate them.
But that is not when we make progress.
We make progress when no one is looking. When it’s easy to say no, but we say yes.
No, it's not the promotion. But it's the hours and hours of work that went unpraised and unnoticed.
It's not the number on the scale. It's refusing to hit snooze on that winter morning and lacing up your sneakers.
It's not the graduation. It's comforting your child at 2 am when they've got a stomach bug. Or crying with them when they fail.
And then, it's about showing up to do it all again tomorrow.
That's when progress happens. You could forgive us for not noticing. But that's it, right there.
So stick with it. You're in the middle of it now so it's hard for you to see.
But you're getting there, one important step at a time.
If I had to pick one character trait to write about, again and again, it would be persistence. When we were picking our kids' names, I even tried to find one that meant "persistence." I don't remember succeeding with that search. Persistence is the hardest thing for us to achieve in our lives but among the most important. I really believe we can do things that seem absolutely, completely impossible by showing up every day and chipping away at them relentlessly.
If you want to dive more into how you can apply this in your own life, check out this article on identity-based habits that I wrote a little while back. It even includes a video of me in my basement! (Cue the zero clicks).
And finally, how about some BONUS CONTENT for you? It must be good if I’m using ALL CAPS. I wrote a chapter in my career book Say Good Morning, Like a Human called "Show up." I had fun impersonating Tony Robbins when recording the audiobook and I'm sharing the audio version of that chapter with you below.
Thanks as always. Please feel free to send this email to someone who might benefit from it or share it on social media. Are you following me on Twitter by the way? If not, you can find me here: @gregorycampion
I'll be back next week. Just gonna keep showing up. - Greg
Photo credit: Joshua Greshman @ Unsplash.com