One of my favorite parts of career coaching is watching the progress that takes place. Sometimes it’s so minute, an average observer might miss it. Other times, it’s so unbelievably big, both the client and I have to step back and simply bask in its glory.
Progress can sometimes be hard to define. It’s the step between here and there. It’s the motion of doing and achieving and yet, at the same time, still striving for more. Progress is what happens when you feel the pull of your dreams, and instead of just sitting there, wishing and waiting, you dive in. Progress is that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other rhythmic plodding of hard work.
And yet…many don’t appreciate the beauty of it. Making progress means you’re still not done. You have more work to do. That’s the mindset some people get stuck in.
I encourage you to see progress for what it is—dramatically different from completion—and love it for that same reason. Progress is the epic journey from where you are to where you want to be. It can be long and irritating and frightfully uncomfortable. But that’s the nature of transformation.
Here’s how to make progress happen:
Explore with a Curious Mind
There are different kinds of journeys in life. For some, you’ll have a clear destination in mind. For others, you’ll wander until the right road appears. In all cases, exploration is a critical part of making progress. Even if you know precisely where you want to end up, the process of veering off-track with intention and curiosity can actually help you chart your course more effectively. It can reassure you that your path is right or it may help you identify new trails to blaze.
Just be sure to drop breadcrumbs as you go so you can always find your way back when needed.
Take Slow, Deliberate Action
Action is indeed a critical part of progress on any journey, but not just any action. Progress is thoughtful and measured. It’s not some wild game of “Guess What’s Next?” Each step is taken with purpose and its impact carefully dissected before taking another.
This isn’t to suggest risk can’t be taken or your pace must be painfully sluggish. Make movement with intention and let speed not concern you.
Establish Your Rhythm
Progress is methodical. It’s a steady march forward. While speed should not concern you, cadence is another matter. Build momentum in the beat of your footsteps. Keep it constant and firm. Let the sound of progress resonate in your soul and in the world.
Bring a Companion
Any journey is more enjoyable with a partner—someone to celebrate the victories and share in the frustrations. But when it comes to making progress, a companion offers much more than company along the way.
This person is not a leader or a follower; he is an ally, a teammate, a support mechanism to help keep your stamina up when the road ahead is cold and unwelcoming. In your darkest hours, he will remind you of how far you’ve come and help maintain your rhythm when every bone in your body is begging to give up. Your companion will hold you true to your highest, most magnificent self and won’t let you be less.
Above all else, making progress is not like winning a race. Yes, it requires endurance and, at times, extreme exertion. But the journey is the reward, not the finish line. Progress happens in the day-to-day. Recognize your evolution. Give yourself the respect you deserve for making it happen. Don’t brush it aside like a pesky disturbance between you and your goal. Savor it. Remember that this progress was made by you. It’s the result of your sweat. And progress itself is the epic journey.