Unleashing the Power of Progress

Are you making progress?

It’s an important question. When you are making progress toward a goal, you are happier.

Progress animates us. It brings us to life. When we sense that we are making progress, we tend to be filled with passion, energy, enthusiasm, purpose, and a real and sustainable joy. Progress fills us with gratitude for the now and hope for the future. Progress creates enduring happiness.

So what is progress?

Progress is change for the better. Progress is any change, however small, that moves you closer toward your goal.

But in order to make progress of any sort, there are three factors that need to be present. Three very simple things that may seem obvious, but are easily overlooked.

Nail down these three things, and watch the power of progress take hold in your life.

1. A GOAL

Progress is moving toward a goal. In order to know that you’re moving forward, you need to have a clearly stated and well-envisioned destination in mind. You need a goal. You need something to shoot for.

What, then, do you wish to progress toward?

For example, a couple of years ago my wife challenged me to learn Korean. It’s a long story, and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that I took her up on the challenge.

When you have a clear vision of your goal, it is much easier to create a step-by-step plan for achieving it.

One of the first things I did was check out what resources were available, both for free and for purchase, that would help me tackle my new language. I also researched best practices in language learning, and I was eventually led to programs created using the Pimsleur Method. One of the attractions to the program is that it is completely audio-based. I could just pop the CD into the CD player in my car and practice for twenty to thirty minutes each day on my way to work.

My initial goal was simply to acquire a basic conversational grasp of the language—and the Pimsleur Method fit the bill.

When you have a clear vision of your goal, it is much easier to create a step-by-step plan for achieving it.

2. GROWING YOUR DESIRE

A goal is great, but if you have no actual desire to achieve your goal, you’ll have no wind in your sails—no momentum to propel you forward.

The more you think about your goal, the stronger the desire to achieve it becomes.

But when you start to think more and more about your goal, you begin to transform your desires. The more you think about your goal, the stronger the desire to achieve it becomes. And the stronger the desire becomes, the more you will align your actions with these desires and actually bring about the intended progress.

Back to my language learning example. Korean is a tough language. As a matter of fact, the Foreign Service Institute has rated Korean as a Category V language, meaning it’s among the hardest languages in the world for English speakers to learn.

This was pretty daunting. So how do I keep up my desire to learn the language when things get tough? One way has been for me to keep the Korean edition of Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscover Catholicism at my desk at work. I enjoy flipping through the pages and imagining myself actually being able to read the entire book. This actually motivates me to keep learning.

Another method I’ve used to keep myself motivated is to watch Korean TV shows. For one, the stories in many of these shows are very engaging . . . I just get sucked in. But I also picture in my mind’s eye the day I can watch these shows and not need to rely on the subtitles to understand what’s being said.


What are one or two things you can do to increase your desire to achieve whatever goal you’ve set for yourself?

3. ACTION

Desire is not enough. Progress requires desire and action. Without action, your goals and desires will simply remain a distant dream.

Take small daily baby steps. That’s it! Persistent and consistent effort.

Focus on the progress you are making, your advances will encourage you to persevere in achieving your goals and dreams.

I’ll be honest, in my efforts to learn Korean I struggle with making a daily effort. There are mornings when I just want to listen to music on my commute in to work. But even on days like that, I can still review the more common phrases that I’ve memorized, or I can review bits of the alphabet. Even watching an episode of my favorite Korean TV show can be a good way to keep myself immersed in the language.

Do you have a long commute to work? Consider turning your car into a university on wheels. Figure out a time that works for you, and use that as time to work toward your goal. You’ll be amazed at how quickly twenty to forty minutes of consistent daily effort progresses you toward your goal.


Finally, a word of encouragement. The reason most of us fail to achieve real and sustainable change in our lives is because we focus too much on our goal and not enough on the progress we have made towards our goal. It is important to establish goals, but they can often seem overwhelming and impossible. If you can condition yourself to focus on the progress you are making, your advances will encourage you to persevere in achieving your goals and dreams.

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