Whether you are a student, parent, empty-nester, or young professional, September reminds us that summer is over and our lives are resuming a “normal” pace. Many of us welcome routine and the structure it provides, increasing our productivity and connectedness. Yet as we move into fall, we may feel anxious about the expectations and challenges ahead.
Will I succeed? Will I fail? How can I get it all done? I thought I would be in a different situation by now. I didn’t accomplish all I planned over the summer.
Our goals are often overwhelming, sometimes making our progress feel too insignificant to measure. It is common to feel “frozen” and unable to begin the tasks at hand. We make excuses, “I’ll start tomorrow.” “This” must happen before I can do “that.”
The Buddha shared, “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.” Drop-by-drop. Little-by-little. Step-by-step. Significant change is the accumulation of small steps. First we must start; then we must persist.
Each day is an opportunity to progress toward a desired outcome. Some days will feel (and in fact may be) more productive than others, yet at the end of the day how do we measure our progress? Sometimes it is obvious: we complete a project or scratch something off the to-do list. Other times, our trajectory can be difficult to even recognize, much less, quantify. Scott Crabtree of Happy Brain Science, shares ideas for assessing progress in “Structure of a Progress Report.” He identifies the following seven areas of contemplation each week:
- Most meaningful: What was your most meaningful encounter or accomplishment?
- Deepest connection to others: Who did you connect with that supports you and your efforts? Who did you support?
- Biggest mistake: What mistake did you make and what opportunity for growth resulted?
- Learned the most: What did you learn and how will that knowledge propel you?
- Improved the most: In what way did you improve this week? (Personally? Academically? Professionally?)
- Most progress toward goals: Where did you make the most progress this week?
- Next week’s priorities: What is your next step? What will be the next drop in your bucket?
These questions are tools to acknowledge personal growth and movement towards goals, whether concrete or abstract. When we take a moment to track our progress, we create a momentum shift, motivating and energizing our journey forward. Crabtree’s “Structure of a Progress Report” proves that progress is always happening; it is time we celebrate it!
Let’s recognize the significance of ALL progress: drop-by-drop, step-by-step, the pot will fill!
Live well/Be well