One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when trying to change something in their life is to confuse “no progress” with “slow progress”. Here’s what I mean: Changing anything is difficult, whether it is quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, or improving your work habits. It isn’t easy to shift something that has become ingrained in your life.
Progress is Slow
Because changing anything is hard, for most people, progress is slow. For people who are successful at changing something, it usually takes a long time. We’re talking months and years, not days and weeks. They have to put in the work day after day, and usually they don’t see the results right away.
This can be a tough thing in our society, because we are into instant gratification. We live on fast food. We can’t stand delays. We don’t even have to go to the store to buy something—we can order it with Amazon Prime and get it delivered the same day. We want what we want NOW.
There’s a disconnect between the instant gratification trend in our society and the way change and personal growth work. Most change efforts don’t align with the instant gratification way of doing things. If this is our expectation, we’re in for a disappointment. And this is what often happens. For example, people try an exercise program for a week or two, don’t see any progress, and quit.
I remember when I was in high school, I made a decision to start exercising and lose weight. After the first week of exercising, I looked in the mirror and my body didn’t look any different. I was frustrated with my lack of progress. Even after a month, I remember looking in the mirror and my body didn’t look any different. I thought that maybe it “wasn’t working”. I felt like quitting.
A year later, however, I had lost 60 pounds and my body had completely changed. But progress was slow.
Don’t Confuse “No Progress” with “Slow Progress”
Don’t confuse “no progress” with “slow progress”. For a change effort to be successful, you have to put in the work day after day, week after week. Take a long-term view. If your progress is slow, that’s okay! Slow progress is the norm for everybody. As long as you’re putting in the time and moving toward your goal, that’s a win in my book.