When you are invested in the outcome of any goal, the pressure to make progress never goes away. But progress in any field is not linear.
It’s easy to judge those who have succeeded or making consistent progress. Successful people choose their goals carefully and take the extra inch approach to make progress. They focus on accessible, deeply practical steps — instead of going the extra mile a few times a year. They make better progress in the long-run.
Every great person you admire didn’t succeed because of one giant move, but because of a series of consistent actions over time. Success is more about endurance and sustainability. Top performers focus more on the process, not just on the outcome. Success is not so much about the final performance, it’s about the continual practice.
“I’m convinced you can do almost anything if you are willing to clarify your goals and then make the incremental investment over time to achieve them,” says Michael Hyatt, an author, podcaster, blogger, and speaker.
Consistency is about building small empowering habits and rituals. It’s the time-tested processes that eventually add up. If you aim to progress properly — week to week, month to month, and ultimately year to year — you’ll avoid work burnout. You’ll always have enough energy and the mental capacity to keep going.
Most people don’t follow the law of progression. They create big goals and aim to make progress or complete their goals in a few difficult steps — which can backfire. When you try to rush the process, it may seem like you succeeded in the short-term. But your long-term approach suffers.
Stretch your extra miles out into something far more approachable
A better approach is to focus on the practice (consistent, everyday improvements) instead of the performance. “The thing is, incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track — this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes,” argues Seth Godin.
The approach or mindset can guarantee mental resiliency, better results in almost any endeavour, and consistent growth in anything you pursue.
Whether you want to smarter about how you work, improve yourself, or embrace lifelong learning, the simple law of progression can help get to your destination in the best way possible.
“If you’re a software engineer, it could be one extra round of testing before launch. Those working on projects can add one extra idea or concept that wasn’t part of the specifications but takes the task to new heights. Scientists can add one extra experiment, while athletes can add one extra set in the gym,” argues Josh Linkner at Inc.
The progression principle can also to value the process as much (if not more) than the end result — if you enjoy the process, you are more likely to stick to it, which can ultimately help you to achieve the end results.
When you do something one step at a time, you’re more intentional. It feels less intimidating and is more manageable. It might feel less exciting than chasing a huge win, but its results will be stronger and more sustainable.
Everything you choose to do will feel more gratifying when you embrace the power of incremental process. Peter Drucker, one of the most influential thinkers on management once said “People often overestimate what they can accomplish in one year. But they greatly underestimate what they could accomplish in five years.”
It’s better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward on the wrong path.
In “The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success,” author Darren Hardyexplains, “It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”
Consistency is the difference between making progress and procrastination.
If you’ve been struggling with consistency — in dieting, working out, meditating, whatever — my guess is you are probably focusing too much on intensity — one huge step at a time. The truth is intensity is not sustainable — your body fights back in the end and progress suffers.
If you want to be the type of person who makes progress on a consistent basis, don’t try to improve or change everything at once — you’ll ultimately improve nothing. Instead, focus on the small actions that can make the most impact. Make small steady progress you can sustain.
Originally published on Medium.
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