Why Does It Take So Long to Make Progress?
By Chuck Gallozzi
Part of the spirit of human nature is a desire to make progress, or positive change. We all want to improve some area of our life. Perhaps we want to improve our finances, relationships, health, or education. We may want to control our emotions, develop self-discipline, or grow more tolerant. But why is progress so slow?
Part of the reason lies in not asking the above question. Rather than ask ourselves what's holding us back, we shrug our shoulders and sigh, "Well, I guess that's what is meant to be." However, what happens to us is not the result of what is meant to be, but the result of the actions we take or fail to carry out. So, if we find ourselves in less than satisfactory circumstances, let's start by considering the major roadblocks to our success. And once we have identified them, let's ask ourselves how we can overcome those hurdles. Finally, after arriving at a solution, let's act on it.
Thus, a simple 3-Step Plan can launch us on our way:
- Identify what is holding us back.
- Figure out what steps we need to take to overcome the obstacle.
- Take action! Implement our plan.
Major Roadblocks that Slow Our Progress
- Living by default instead of by design. That is, rather than plan our actions, we usually just automatically respond to whatever happens to us at the moment. And when we act automatically, we just continue doing what we have always been doing, which is the definition of NOT making progress. The solution is to stay alert, vigilant, and think before we act. Before acting, ask yourself if what you are about to do will improve your life, keep it the same, or make it worse.
- Making excuses instead of making plans. Success is not a matter of luck that happens to us. Rather, it is created by us because of the actions we take. When we accept responsibility for our actions, we empower ourselves, but when we deny our shortcomings and rationalize our poor behaviour, we condemn ourselves to mediocrity or failure. For as Shirley Chisholm wrote, "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."
- We listen to our Inner Child instead of our Inner Adult. We constantly hear two voices within us. One suggests how we can improve our lives. This is the voice of our True Self, Inner Adult, or Inner Wisdom. Unfortunately, the inspiring words of our Inner Adult are often drowned out by our Inner Child, which is the stored memory of our childhood. Our Inner Child is a Fraidy Cat or scaredy-cat. It is afraid to try anything new or to step out of its comfort zone. When you act without thinking, you usually turn over control of your life to your Inner Child. To succeed in life, we need to listen to our Inner Adult and act courageously.
- Fear of being wrong. As children, we were afraid of making mistakes, being criticized, denied affection, appearing stupid, breaking the rules, or being punished. For when we were 'wrong,' we were made fun of, humiliated, or scolded. Unless we remain vigilant, these childhood fears will carry over and direct our present action. Remind yourself that you are no longer a child and resolve to act courageously.
- Fear of our own inner power. We all know we have vast inner power. We know this by observing the great deeds of others. For we share the same human nature. If others are capable of greatness, so are we. But we are afraid to use our power. Maryanne Williamson explains: .
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Why are we so afraid? Here are some reasons:
- If we acknowledge our power we have to accept responsibility and can no longer make excuses or blame others for our failure.
- We may be afraid of working hard and prefer to loaf.
- We may be afraid people will expect too much from us or take advantage of us.
- Friends may become jealous of our success and abandon us.
Doubtlessly, you understand the importance of progress, for it is what narrows the gap between where we are and where we want to be. But we mustn't mistake aimless action for progress, for as Alfred A. Montapert wrote, "Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress."
Another reason for the importance of progress is that we are either progressing or regressing. There is no standing still in life. Charles Caleb Colton explains: "He that is good, will infallibly become better, and he that is bad, will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue and time are three things that never stand still."
About Chuck Gallozzi
Chuck Gallozzi lived in Japan for 15 years, immersing himself in the wisdom of the Far East. He is the author of the book, The 3 Thieves and 4 Pillars of Happiness, 7 Steps to a Life of Boundless Joy. He is also a Certified NLP Practitioner, speaker, and seminar leader. Among his additional accomplishments, he is also the Grand Prix Winner of a Ricoh International Photo Competition, the Canadian National Champion in a Toastmasters International Humorous Speech Contest, and the Founder and Head of the Positive Thinkers Group that has been meeting at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto since 1999. He was interviewed on CBC’s Steven and Chris Show, appearing nationally on Canadian TV. Chuck is a catalyst for change, dedicated to bringing out the best in others and his main home on the web is at Personal-Development.com