I have a confession to make. I used to be a task junkie. Nothing in the world was going to stop me and my list. This magical list just continued to grow. No matter how much I did, there were always new tasks being added to it.
I got to the point where I would achieve a task and start a new one without even blinking or taking in a deep breath. “Next” was my mantra and I worshipped at the altar of endless task achieving.
You can imagine that it’s not a very joyful place to be. Sure you can get a lot done and feel worthy or adequate but only for a brief moment if at all. Somewhere in my early years I must have equated getting things done with pleasing my parents.
Even though we may learn these things in our early years, we don’t have to continue the traditions of the past. We can forge new traditions!
And this brings me to the third kind of pain: the pain of feeling like you’re not making enough progress. The pain is there to tell you that somewhere inside, you feel a level of dissatisfaction.
For a moment I’d like to dissect this and consider each part. Maybe your feeling is justified. Maybe you’ve been at something, working hard, chipping away, and it just doesn’t seem to make a difference. You may feel like you’re in the same place as when you started. And maybe it’s not justified. What if your expectations are way too high and you’ve set yourself up for failure?
What does progress mean to you? It’s a personal thing and it can vary depending on if you’re talking about relationships, your job and ability to earn a living, your health, life enjoyment, or your family.
What does “enough” progress mean to you? How do you determine what’s enough?
And if you’re like I used to be:), a task junkie, then it doesn’t matter how much you do, how many tasks you complete, you still end up feeling inadequate. It’s ridiculous but true. What if your definition of progress wasn’t just about checking things off your list? What if progress was something more, something that included celebration and enjoying just being?
You may try to outsmart yourself and not set any expectations. You may think that by not having expectations, you won’t end up feeling disappointed. But you’re still not making any progress, so there’s the rub.
Making progress, in whatever area of your life, makes life more meaningful. It gives us a sense of autonomy, accomplishment, self-esteem and growth.
When we feel like we’re NOT making progress, we’re somehow falling short of our expectations. A good example of this is the mid-life crisis. This type of crisis occurs when we find ourselves in a different place than we thought we’d be. Somehow we don’t measure up.
So how can we help ourselves when we feel the pain of not making enough progress? Ask yourself if your day-to-day actions and attitudes match up with your expectations? Whatever your expectation is, are you taking the necessary steps to bring this belief into reality?
When we raise our standards and we act with purpose repeatedly, we can overcome the programming of the past and create new connections in our nervous system. Progress becomes a byproduct of creating the life we want.