In the previous post I wrote about how the excitement of progress can lead to a loss of focus, undermining our achievement. This post examines the other side of that coin: that we overlook our progress altogether, failing to recognise the small steps we take because we are too busy looking for the fireworks of transformation. Major change only occurs when you work hard to lay the foundations and build momentum (see: ‘Punctuated Equilibrium‘), so it’s important to acknowledge the work you are doing and see the progress you are making.
When we set goals for ourselves, they take their place on the horizon of our future and remain there, awaiting our arrival. As we gaze longingly at them, wondering how we’ll ever make it that far, it’s easy to feel disillusioned by the distance we have to travel. More significantly, whilst peering into the future, we are missing what is happening right now.
Stop looking at the horizon. If that’s where your focus is, you’ll never get there. That’s why it’s the horizon. Instead, put your goals in a drawer and look at where you are now. Set yourself more immediate targets and deal with whatever is in front of you. And when you evaluate how far you have travelled, look back at where you were a month or a year ago and read the notes you made at the time. If you didn’t make any notes, make some now so that you can assess where you stand in the future.
Keep doing that and one day you’ll look up to find you’re standing on the very horizon you stared at all those months previously. When that happens open the drawer, look at your original goals and you’ll realise you didn’t need to be so focused on them after all. Writing them down was enough.
As an example of the value of recording your position, here are two posts, written 11 years apart: ‘Where Am I?‘ is a snapshot of my situation in April 2000, and ‘Measurable Results‘ uses the same criteria to assess my status in April 2011. The progress is clear to see, and that is all you have to do: see it. Whatever the time interval and no matter how insignificant your advancement may seem, just make sure you see your progress.