Progress looks like different things to different people.
Yup, no shit. Here’s a long-winded story to show that.
The other day, I was walking my dog, Jingle, in my neighborhood. He has this very charming way of constantly whining for our entire walk.
So very charming, indeed.
Every day, we go for a walk down the same streets at the same pace. Sometimes, it’s raining or snowing or sunny. Sometimes, I’m talking on the phone. Sometimes, I’m distracted by my thoughts or a pretty house that I wish was mine. Either way, we do this every.single.day. Almost without exception.
And every day, he protests (maybe he’s just so excited, but really, I think he’s protesting). It gets louder when he sees a person, dog, or squirrel he wants to befriend or behead. And he whines as if to say, “Maaa, hurry up! That fuzzy thing needs to pet me, can’t you tell!”
Sometimes, I get lucky and he’s quiet for a stretch. But without exception, he will whine when he sees a person.
Well, one day I had just stepped from my porch and Jingle spotted a neighbor who clearly needed to give Jingle attention (unbeknownst to said neighbor).
Groaning to myself, I sheepishly waved, said hello, and apologized for the ruckus.
I can always tell what kind of walk it’ll be depending upon how early, often, and loudly Jingle’s protestations commence.
And you know what the neighbor said to me?
“Oh wow, he’s getting better!”
I was STUNNED.
I walk Jingle every day. From where I was standing, it didn’t seem like he was any different that day than he was the day before and the one before that.
(I used to grade his walks, but he started failing the class and my child will not be an F student, so I stopped that practice quickly! But even without tracking his progress, I did NOT get the sense that he was improving.)
But that’s the thing about progress. It looks like different things to different people.
My neighbor, who hasn’t walked 10,000 steps with Jingle has a unique perspective. And in that same vein, I have a unique perspective, too. I am right there, literally every step of the way.
The other thing about progress? You take little steps each day and complete the very next thing before you move on. And you don’t notice those little steps adding up to a marathon.
See, when you’re so close to the progress, it can feel like you’re standing still, or worse, moving backward. And when you pause to assess where you’ve been and where you’re currently standing, you notice you’ve come a long way, baby.
You’re probably a lot further ahead than you realize.