Those of us with an ‘inner pull’ or an itch to ‘be more’ have a firm idea of what ‘progress’ looks like.
We seek out validation of our path: mostly in the form of some kind of ‘pay off’ for making specific choices. We look for a sense of achievement to prove our efforts are “worth it.”
If I don’t eat chocolate for 2 weeks, I expect to see ‘progress’ as waking without headaches, clearer skin or to fit into my jeans easier.
And in this modern era, we expect quick results. A lot of products are actually sold to us under the premise of fast improvements, or sudden happiness merely by owning it.
Because this is so common, it makes slow progress feel much harder to recognise and appreciate. We’re used to fast results, so when we don’t get them, it feels like a failure.
We want the changes to show, even a hint of success in the 2 weeks. The difficulty comes when we don’t see those suggestions of success, the signs we’re on the right path and just need to keep going a little longer.
Progress Does Not Have a Set Speed
And not only is slower progress now ‘abnormal’ and a shortfall on our expectations, but it’s a problem for our brains.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter chemical that controls motivation. The pathways are the ‘reward’ tracks that sustain us to keep going.
But progress varies: as much as people may try to write numbers of days for habits or expectations for changes to happen, it’s not that simple.
So if we’re not experiencing that quick dose of ‘win,’ we can lose motivation. Thus, focusing on baby steps towards a goal tells our brain to give us a reward. Through this, we’re more likely to feel accomplished than if we experience something as ‘not much progress.’
Attention is Crucial
When losing motivation for a task, or feeling that slump of impatience because things aren’t progressing at the speed we’d like, dopamine can give us a boost.
You don’t need a neuroscience degree to do this. The realisation of “hey, I did it” sparks the reward chemical. Are your thoughts helpful?
Thus, focusing on ta-da list or achievements can help us to feel motivated to continue working towards them. And this is a blessing for those long-term goals which may feel like slow progress or even feel like stagnation.
Too many people give up at the first moment of “it’s not working” instead of seeking out small improvements which could re-start their motivation.
If you want the goal, pay attention to the tiny improvements. Motivation is one antidote to exhaustion. Because speed, however slow, is still forward movement.
What progress have you been overlooking?