Little by little, a little becomes a lot.
I was chatting with one of my best and most loyal girlfriends yesterday, and I can’t help but reflect when her and I connect. We don’t get to see each other as often as we wish we could. Life is busy and some distance separates us, but we were side by side during some of our hardest moments in life. And some of the most fun. We will always be bonded because of this, in fact, she gave me a sign that sums it all up and reminds me of her daily. It says, “we will always be best friends, because we know too much.” Absolutely. The reflection comes when I look in the rear view and acknowledge where we were … and where progress has taken us.
It’s always been a downfall of mine to wish for the next thing. To look into the future and think, I am ready for … insert the next goal, accomplishment, milestone, life stage. It’s taken some practice to slow down and just be in the moment, to essentially appreciate the progress. If you are a little type A like I am, you are also criticizing every move you make in the process. Which makes it even harder to realize how far you’ve come. And this realization of progress is crucial to happiness.
So, what does progress look like? Well some days it looks like nothing. It may feel like you are moving backwards. It may be counting down the minutes to make an hour. That’s what it looked like for me when I was putting one foot in front of the other during my divorce. Then, progress meant calling a divorce attorney, setting my kids up for counseling, and most often, making it until bedtime when I could finally pull the covers over my head and hide from real life. I certainly didn’t see it as growth at the time, it didn’t feel like it. It felt like survival and if you would’ve asked me then, I would have told you I was failing. Looking back, those were some of my bravest days.
There are other times when progress is big and bold and in your face. You’ve put some serious work into forward movement, maybe by furthering your education, taking the next step in a relationship, or making big life changes like a new house/job/baby. These are the times I am most impatient and so unlikely to enjoy the natural course of progression. Instead I am prone to set my sites on the result. Which means missing out on the beauty of the day-to-day victories and the evolution of something new.
Progress is your every day. It’s taking action, big or small, it’s finding courage, it’s saying “yes” to yourself. It is letting go of expectations and limits, feeling pride along the way, and knowing you can be “a work in progress” and a magnificent beast at the same time. Progress is telling your inner critic to kindly get out of the back seat and find another ride. It is NOT perfection. It means good days that leave you feeling on fire and shit days that feel hopeless. It means asking for help when needed and giving yourself a gold star when you realize you’re not where you used to be.
I myself am making progress in the arena of progress. I am reminding myself to slow down, to give credit to myself where it is due, and to simply enjoy the ride. I am discovering at times it isn’t easy to see the progress, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Part of my own breakthrough is learning to have faith, in both myself and my plan (a lot of which I don’t even know yet!). I’m not perfect and I still find myself looking ahead some days. But more often, I use gratitude as a reminder that little by little, I have come a long way. Not only acknowledging there is progress, but the fact that I am better than I once was. And smiling at the insight that I will someday be even better than I am right now.