The Key to Progress

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, where I’ve been, where I am now and where I want to be. It can be easy to get down and think, “I’m certainly not where I thought I would be,” “I’m not where I want to be,” or “I don’t know if I can get where I want to be, now or in the future.”

It’s so easy to look at life, as in, where I am now and feel like, “Man, I’m going no where! Nothing ever happens.” And in a place like little Ao Nang, it is especially easy to think like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually live a pretty good life. At 26 years old, I have moved from Canada to Thailand with my son and my partner. We’ve been living the beach life here for a year and a half already, by our own means. We’ve decided we’re going to call this place home for a while. The warm, tropical atmosphere, abundance of fresh fruit and the enriching culture of the Thai people have me hooked.

Unlike the city life of Toronto, Ao Nang can be quaint and slow whenever it isn’t full of tourists, during the high season. The hustle feeling you get from being in the city doesn’t exist here. The clock isn’t ticking down on your deadlines the same way it does when you’re living the metropolitan lifestyle. We actually get time to relax and take things easy, and that is something everyone wants. But for a girl like me, who has big plans and aspirations, it really can start to feel like nothing ever happens.

For the duration of my life, right up to the present, I have always had dreams to do big things. I like to do things that are challenging, because the rewards are always greater than what you get from doing the easy stuff. But doing big things requires a lot of work, time and effort.

It can be easy to think, when you have big plans, that you have to make big moves in order for those plans to become reality. When we’re breaking our goals down into steps, identifying the major steps that need to happen helps us to understand how to get closer to our goals. But even then, those major steps require so many little moves and maneuvers in order to be fulfilled.

It can be hard to consider and accurately measure how many little steps are needed to make a bigger step take place.

That’s where I am at right now. Reminding myself that the little things are what makes the big things.

Just like swimming across the pool, it’s just one stroke at a time. A thousand mile journey is made of a million little steps. But each step is small and when you look at it in comparison to the last one, it can feel insignificant. Like when I write another paragraph for a chapter in one of my upcoming books, it feels like there is so much more to go and so little already done to get closer to finishing.

But that’s how all the big things become reality. One step at a time.

That’s how I managed to move all the way to Thailand from Ontario, Canada. That’s how I managed to put together the songs for my album. That’s how I managed to complete all the coursework for my college programs. That’s even how I’ve been my strongest relationships. One step at a time.

The key to progress is simply that. You must make small and consistent moves in the right direction. Big and random acts may seem effective in the moment, but in the long run, the results will not be what you hoped for. Progress lies in the little things, in the small moments that lead up to the big moments.

Being an ambitious person can sometimes be hard, no matter where in the world you are, because sometimes it seems like the world isn’t spinning as fast as I would like it to. But then I remind myself to take a deep breath and take it one moment at a time. I can’t leap a hundred moments into the future, even if, ideally, that would be great. But still, only one step at a time will get you there.

Just like swimming, each stroke and paddle, from your arms and legs, pushes and pulls you closer to the finish line. Each movement is a small one, but the consistency of the movements allow the swimmer’s body to cut and glide through the water. Imagine if you tried to make big, exaggerated and random swimming movements in order to swim across the pool. Is that even possible? In my head, it would look like a person drowning.

That’s the key to progress in a metaphor right there. Making progress is like swimming, you have to make small and consistent strokes to make it across the water. You have to take the little steps and do the daily things to make your dreams a reality.

Of course, this requires patience but it builds character.

And isn’t character, always, another work-in-progress? 🙂

Today, think about the progress you’ve made from where you were 3 years ago to where you are now. Things take time to happen, but big things happen when you get all the little things in place. You can do it, just stick to it.