It’s a funny coincidence, but the other day two quotes about progress crossed my path, one in the daily Calm meditation and the other in my journal.

Progress is something we’re measured on, and that we measure ourselves against, from an early age. From birth the health visitor measures progress against certain milestones of weight and development. At school, teachers’ reports note how we are progressing against learning goals set by the authorities (and they in turn are rewarded or chastised as a reflection of their pupils’ progress). 

But as we get older, and especially when we move into a leadership role, progress can become a bigger and bigger stick to beat ourselves with, especially if it is tied to financial reward (shareholder value, profit margins, bonus awards). Sometimes progress can never feel big enough or fast enough to satisfy demand.

Thinking about my own progress yesterday, the thing I’m most delighted about is the progress I made, both in completing so many tasks and in small steps of advancement within various projects. To me, these small increments are the true indication of positive progression. If we judge progress on our ability to achieve giant leaps forward, then we’ll spend the majority of our time feeling frustrated and disappointed.

Progress not perfection

My personal trainer Tom Dyer always reminds me to aim for ‘progress not perfection’ in my training, and certainly in this morning’s circuit I had several realisations of progress made with my strength and fitness in various exercises.

Looking at the dictionary, the definition of progress is:

  • Forward or onward movement towards a destination
  • Development towards an improved or more advanced condition

I love these! In these days of constant change and continuous challenge, aiming for perfection is almost certainly not realistic for most of us, most of the time. Indeed, such a focus is likely to cause stress, anxiety and dis-ease, in which case we’re even less likely to achieve progress as we’d be heading in the wrong direction emotionally.

Enjoy the journey

The ability to make progress requires a positive mindset, where we believe we can do it. Unrealistic expectations are self-defeating but, by breaking goals down into manageable chunks, anything is possible.

With a daily focus on small steps of progress towards our goals and objectives, we enjoy the journey more, have space to learn and course-correct as we go, and ultimately are far more likely to achieve our goals and do so with greater enjoyment and fulfilment.

If you need support with goal setting and making progress, please get in touch. With our help, you can be present and progress in peace.

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