I’ve often had days when I wonder if I’m making any progress at all toward some long-term goals. It seems pretty easy to think this way given that the goals are long-term and we often only consider the hear and the now. These questions of progress can do some good. They can also hurt.
The downside of these thoughts is that it’s easy to draw the conclusion that no progress is in fact being made. If no progress is being made, what is the point of doing all of this work anyway? Will I ever see a payoff for my labors? It doesn’t seem like it. Maybe I should just quit. Perhaps that long term goal made no sense. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. It would probably be better if I invested my time in other pursuits. These negative thoughts are not helpful.
The upside of questions of progress is that they can cause introspection to occur which can lead to significant breakthroughs. Perhaps it feels like no progress is being made because the path needs a slight adjustment. Perhaps I can work smarter on this goal and bring about its achievement sooner than I thought possible. Perhaps I need to set some shorter term goals to give myself more feedback about the progress. Or perhaps it really is time to assess the worthiness of the goal and whether I’ve learned anything that causes me to question its value.
Most goals that really matter are the long term variety. Achievement of these goals matters because it often takes time and energy to do great things. It takes time and energy to change yourself enough such that the achievement of some goals is even possible. Simply put, achieving long term goals is hard. It’s much easier to quit. It’s much easier to not even establish long term objectives in the first place. As is often the case, the difficult path leads to the more rewarding outcome.
Here are two examples I’ve been thinking about recently:
- I have spent about 3 years learning to trade the stock market. I’ve often wondered why it’s taking so long to become an excellent trader. I’ve often wondered whether I’ll ever get it. I’ve often felt like I wasn’t making any progress. The reality, though, is that a ton of progress has been made, even though it often doesn’t feel that way. I didn’t know anything about the stock market a few years ago. If I really look back in time, it’s easy to see the progress. If I consider where I’ve come from, if I consider where I started, the progress becomes evident. So will I ever get it? I’m quite confident that I will because I’ve had an incredible mentor. This ensures that the things I’m doing every day to get closer to that goal do in fact work. Hundreds of other people have taken the same steps and become excellent traders. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes a ton of perserverance. This is one of those goals I never plan on giving up on. I plan on pursuing it for the rest of my life.
- Another long term goal has led to questions of progress – Soapadoo. I would like Soapadoo to be a very successful business that provides a ton of value to people. I want it to be so remarkable and useful that folks can’t help but tell others about it. Soapadoo certainly hasn’t achieved these goals yet. If the site were truly remarkable, the traffic to it would have exploded. At this point, there’s been a steady rise in traffic each month, but it’s certainly not viral by any means. Are these Soapadoo goals achievable? I believe so, but I don’t know for certain. Does that mean I should give up? No! Hear’s why – I haven’t even been trying for very long. A few months is just not a long time when it comes to creating a business. It takes time to refine a business to be what customers are looking for. It takes time to market a web site. It’s easy to start a business and then wonder a few weeks later why it hasn’t been an incredible success. If you listen to successful entrepreneurs, it often takes months or even years for an entrepreneurial venture to gain some traction. Overnight successes are rare.
So, for me, I need to keep plugging away every day. I need to ensure that the things I’m working on every day take me a step closer toward these long term objectives. I need to be disciplined and determined.