How to FEEL like you’re making progress

How to feel like you're making progress
Photo by Taras Zaluzhny on Unsplash

There is a theory in personal development that you should only ever look forward.

“Keep your eyes on the prize!”

“Create audacious goals and keep your focus on them at all times”.

That kind of thing.

And while I would never argue against setting audacious goals, I do have a problem with the “focus on it at all times and never look back” side of the idea, but we’ll get to that.

First off, goals. You should totally have them. Imagine your ideal life, meditate on your dreams and ideals, imagine a lofty future for you and your loved ones and then write it down, put it on a vision board or carve it into your chest with a rusty nail.

You should definitely do that (apart from the rusty nail thing).

Once you’ve got a goal though, don’t spend too long into the dreaded “gap”.

You’ve met the “gap”, right? He’s that daunting, massive chasm that sits between you and where you want to be.

Dwelling on, and spending time in, the gap is like visiting Rhyl – it doesn’t feel nice and you want to get the hell out of there as soon as possible.

It’s not very rewarding or motivating to be constantly reminded that you’re not where you really want to be. If I needed reminding of how much of a disappointment I am, I’d visit my mother more often.

Once we have our lofty dreams and goals (as well as a rather nasty infection from a rusty nail related wound on our sternum), I think a shift in focus is in order. Rather than constantly comparing ourselves to our ideal and feeling like we’re falling short, we need to stop looking to the future.

We need to look BACK.

In order to appreciate our forward progress, we really need to appreciate our forward progress. We need to look back at how far we’ve come.

Look back and appreciate how much better we are than when we started and how far along the journey we are. Yes, we’re not quite where we want to be, but that’s OK, look at how far we’ve come!

Rather than spending your time looking at the gap, look at our gains. Feel good about the changes you’ve made and what you’ve accomplished, even if you’ve still got a way to go.

I think we’ve all had times when we’re working hard, doing the right things, but it doesn’t FEEL like we’re making progress.

If all you’re doing is looking off into the distance, trying to see if you’re heading in the right direction, you’ll never be able to see how far you’ve come. It’s like going to a tango class with the cast from TOWIE – there’s nothing meaningful to grab hold of.

Even if you are making progress, you’re still only looking forward, always seeing yourself short of your goal.


This brings up an important point. Two, in fact:

  • we have to MEASURE our progress, and
  • we have to measure OUR progress.

To see progress, we have to MEASURE it. It doesn’t matter if it’s sales calls, gym visits or restraining orders against former Olympic legend Tessa Sanderson – you need to keep track of it so you can prove that you’re getting better as time goes on. Buy yourself a pad and a pen (yeah, like you don’t have 8 million already) and start measuring the important things.

Also, it’s OUR progress…not his…or hers, OURS. It doesn’t matter if Gary Vee gets more likes than you, that’s not the game – we’re measuring OUR progress. I can make progress without knowing what Gary Vee is up to (though admittedly, you can’t take a dump without consuming 23 pieces of his content along the way!).

You’re not comparing yourself against anyone else, whether they be an Insta-famous model or Benjamin, the weird chap with a camera who lives at the bottom of your garden. It doesn’t matter.

You’re comparing yourself to who you were yesterday…and the day before that.

Set yourself a goal, work out what you need to do to get there and track your progress.

Look back every single day and ask yourself, “Am I getting better? Am I making progress?”

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