Progress over “Success”

Wouldn’t it be wild if instead of defining our days, our ventures, our goal achievement (or lack thereof) as either successes or failures…we instead looked at them through a lens of progress – where we started vs. where we are now – wouldn’t that feel more easeful? The journey to our destination would feel a heck of a lot smoother because we wouldn’t waste time on feeling guilty, bad about ourselves, or like a failure for not being farther along than we anticipated or “should be”.

I’m not a big fan of daily streaks (even though I DO selectively participate in them) because if you’re like me, when you have a bad day and miss/forget to do whatever you’re tracking, it’s easy to throw the whole experiment away and call it a failure. Without the internal ability to be graceful with ourselves, we can feel guilty and beat ourselves up about it. In the grand scheme of life though – IT WAS JUST ONE DAY! What if instead of defaulting to a berating nature, we show grace to ourselves – acknowledge the so-called setback – and then pick up where we left off?

Because your direction is more important than your speed. Read that again.

One of the things that I’m learning in life right now is that little steps in the direction that you want to go lead to the big changes that you want to see. Just keep taking the next best step – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem right now – and that forward progress daily, every other day, or even weekly WILL add up over time.

It can be discouraging to start something knowing how big the mountain is ahead, but guess what – the time will pass anyway. Just do it. Get started. And then keep moving forward. And rather than looking at setbacks as failures INSTEAD look at the progress you’ve made! You have come a long way to get to the point you’re at today. Remember that and use it as confidence and momentum to keep moving forward.

I recently read The Doorstep Mile by Alastair Humphreys. (It’s all about living more adventurously every day and it’s laid out in easy-to-read bite sized chunks that really left me pondering life…go check him out!) In the book, he encourages the reader to “get going” and “keep going” on their adventures (insert whatever goal, dream, wild idea you have here) and he says that he finds it harder to do this when he judges himself against the yardstick of ‘success’ (measured against a goal post or other people) rather than ‘progress’ (measured against his past self). He also reflects that, “we all make the mistake of eyeing up other people or imaginary finish lines. But it is our progress we ought to measure, not success.”

If you decided to measure your life by “progress against yourself” rather than “success compared or defined by others”, what would that look like? How would your life change? Doesn’t it already feel lighter in your body – like a weight has been lifted off?

Maybe while you’re at it, you even redefine what success means to you. Create your own barometer or measuring stick. Maybe it’s defined by how much free time you have, or how much time you get to spend doing something you love. It doesn’t have to just be about job titles or money in the bank because that’s what society says. What matters to you?

And one more thing: Maybe instead of being judgmental and demeaning to ourselves when we “fail” or when we fall flat on our faces, we instead save that reaction for when we don’t even try or when we get so paralyzed by what others will think that we just leave our big dreams on the table. Because to me, that’s the failure. When we don’t even take the first step towards living out our potential and making our dreams and desires a reality.

Now over to you – some food for thought:

  • Think about or list some ways that you have let go of your dreams or goals in the past because you deemed them as failures due to minor setbacks. What would have happened if you had paused and viewed your progress instead?
  • What is your current definition of success? How can you change that definition to be more life-giving and a truer representation of what matters to you?

“If we don’t reflect on the perspective of our younger, less-experienced selves, we miss the chance to notice that we are progressing.”

Alastair humphreys; The Doorstep Mile

I’d love to know your thoughts on this! If you feel drawn, please share in the comments below or dm me on social. xoxo

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