Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still – Chinese Proverb
I have been reading Quest, the latest book from Dr Jason Fox. One particular insight he shares is the concept of ‘Progress Delusion’. He describes this as “the state where we find ourselves saying yes to so many little things that the biggest, more important things suffer.”
The definition of progress is the forward or onward momentum in the direction of your goals and dreams. It is the constant curiosity about decisions and what’s next, the zig and zag, the pivot out of status quo to shifting the present closer to the desired future – the next job, the big career move, the new house, the next stage for your business, the book deal, the new ‘beaut’ big corporate client – whatever it may be.
But how much progress are you really making each day or are you simply ticking off meaningless tasks on a to-do list to feel like you are making progress?
Are the quick wins of achievement really reflecting what should be done or simply a series a quick personal high fives and happy dance moments – the “yeah I cleared my inbox today” yippee!
Are you in fact lost in a flurry of unimportant details and could the delusion of progress be keeping you stuck in the now of no real momentum towards your personal goals and ultimately having no real influence at all?
We’ve all heard the saying ‘a watched kettle never boils’ – that some things take longer to happen. It’s like sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring, watching a bath fill, or even doing one of those latest fad diets where there is the quick initial euphoria of weight loss but then, as we know, it takes a commitment to a cause over time for real change to happen. A 50,000-word book manuscript, a million dollar business, achieving the big promotion – none of this happens overnight. And whilst we know this to be true, many of us would rather take the time to write a ‘To-do’ list of tasks – even creating lists within lists – hell why not go the whole hog and add some of the stuff you’ve already done. All hacks to allow us to feel good about putting a big fat tick next to ‘Don’t forget – Eat Lunch’.
Whilst we know the end result of sitting on Facebook for 30 minutes, watching the third episode, consecutively, of House of Cards, or somehow finding the time, again, to colour code your bookshelf (or is that just me?) will likely have detrimental effects on momentum, we equally love that addictive, short-term fix of dopamine to the brain.
According to AsapSCIENCE’s video on procrastination “Every time something enjoyable happens, you get a dose of dopamine, which modifies the neurons in your brain, making you more likely to repeat this behaviour. Often times procrastination is a symptom, not a cause.”
Any of these sound familiar?
- Cleared My Inbox – TICK
Good on you but consider how many of those emails were related to moving in the direction of your big goals. To reference Dr. Jason Fox again, he states that email drives reactive work not necessarily progressive work – ain’t that the truth.
- Networking Event Attended – TICK
Great to be out networking but why not be curious. Was this the right event at which to make transformational connections to grow you, your expertise or your business or are you simply transacting and in the habit of staying in the comfort zone of what you know? Is F.O.M.O at play? Are you potentially avoiding investing time to do the work, filling your diary instead with business card swapping over a glass of Chardy and some canapés.
- Newsletter/Blog/Email blast sent – TICK
Yeah one more thing off your to do list but are you getting true engagement? Are your potential clients and followers interested in what you have to say? Is your message supporting brand positioning or are you simply in automatic creation mode.
- Names added to database – TICK
I get that database build and reach of message is a numbers game but be curious and ask yourself if you are obsessing about quantity over quality of connections.
- List done for tomorrow -TICK
Time to reflect and check in. Is your list a series of meaningless tasks or are you really pushing yourself to make progress towards your dreams?
What does progress really look like for you? What is really getting in the way? Is it you? Is it stuff?
Get clear. Kick delusion to touch. Get out of your own way. Even if progress is slow – if you keep focused you will eventually get there.