Progress – forward or onward movement toward a destination.
We sometimes mistake progress as the end destination. We often believe that we have only made progress when we have reached the destination. In reality, progress is infinite. It’s movement toward a destination. In our world, the destination changes often. As we make progress, we have the opportunity to continue shaping the destination we have in mind.
When you set a goal, you are imagining something you have not seen before or been before. During your journey to get there you take hundreds if not thousands of steps. Each step forward gives you a little more clarity on that goal you set. Each step forward gives you a little more clarity on who you are becoming.
Even those steps that feel like you are going backward are actually steps forward. Challenges and even failures are steps forward because you learn from them. They, too, give you more clarity.
The Many Faces of What Progress Feels Like
As you learn and gain more clarity, you also ask more questions. Better questions. To seek those answers, you must do something different. You must ask something more of yourself to keep progressing.
This is the beauty of progress. You are ever growing. And with intentionality, you will grow in the direction of your biggest goals and dreams.
Now, we humans don’t really like the idea of progress without an actual destination, so we set goals. We tend to set annual goals too. Think about New Year’s Resolutions, Company Goals, traditional Individual Development Plans, and even the new fad of setting milestone birthday goals (i.e. 40 5ks the year I turn 40!). All of these are annual goals intended to be achieved within a year.
And then 2 things happen (in no particular order):
- We lose motivation.
- Something changes in our life.
We’ve all been there. For example, who has ever set a new fitness goal and then gotten injured a few weeks in? Ever set a goal for work and then a few months later been transferred to a project or moved to a different job? Or hey – maybe a pandemic hits. Suddenly that annual goal doesn’t work anymore.
Let’s just talk about FRUSTRATION!
By the way, it is A-Okay to feel frustrated when things change or we lose motivation. All emotions have their place. What we have to fight is not letting those negative emotions hang around forever.
So how can we approach goals so that we see progress?
Let’s start by throwing out the annual timeline. There. I said it. Why are we stuck on “the year?”
I propose that we do 2 things instead:
- Cast a vision for who we want to be (no timeline allowed here).
- Start creating small goals that get you making progress immediately.
Casting a Vision
Casting a vision is about dreaming. Who do you want to be? What do you want to be doing next? What will people say about my organization? Ask yourself big questions. And then describe the answer. Don’t worry about how to get there yet. Allow yourself to dream big. Anything is possible if YOU want it.
I am not suggesting you have to write a vision statement here. There are a lot of ways to represent your vision. Some people prefer a nice, concise vision statement. Other people prefer vision boards full of images that represent what they are working toward. And still others prefer to write it out in a lengthy, story-like description. The method that works for YOU is the BEST.
Next you get to work on the vision. I am a believer in 30 day goals. Not monthly goals. No. 30 Day goals. This can be any 30 days in a row. Why 30 days? New habits can be formed in 28 days. Also, 30 days gives you time to gain some new knowledge and then apply it. We don’t really learn until we do something in real life with that new knowledge. And in the 4 weeks you get during a 30 day period, you have time to try things out and start to make it yours.
30 day goals are like building blocks. You keep stacking them next to each other and on top of each other to create something bigger. And that something bigger is what you described in your vision. Making your vision a reality can be a long process, but with small goals you will see PROGRESS. And progress will make you proud. Progress will keep you motivated.
I’m a big believer in journaling (check out this previous blog post). Your journal will show your progress to you. This is especially beneficial when progress comes in the form of challenges or failures. Your journal will also tell you YOUR STORY. Anyone who reaches for “better” and achieves it, has an interesting story to tell. If the story isn’t interesting, the journey was probably not much of a reach for that person. Your journal will be there to remind you of your story. Share it. Share your story with others. Your journey will inspire others, help others keep moving forward, and with any luck give them a good hearty laugh at some of the ridiculousness that can happen in life.
If you need a little help with setting goals and journaling, check out this free 30 Day Development Guide.
And remember that progress is forward or onward movement toward a destination. As you make progress, you have the opportunity to continue shaping the destination you have in mind.
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