On Progress and Process

Image credit: This Is A Book, by Demetri Martin

One of the greatest joys in life — in my experience and opinion — is the feeling of making progress, of getting better at something. Of being able to do something you, only a short while before, could not do (or could not do as well).

Examples are endless. A few that come to mind:

  • Practicing a musical instrument. Sometimes you can have the experience of being able to play something you previously could not (or play it significantly better) after only a single session of sitting down with your instrument. Certainly, regular practice only makes the experience of progress quicker and more frequent.

These are positively reinforcing experiences. They make you want to keep going. To continue making even more progress!

Now, of course, progress isn’t always linear. You are likely to have “good days” and “bad days”. You don’t always improve each time you do an activity. Sometimes, you even have the experience of feeling as if you’re backsliding. That’s normal. That is part of the process.

Progress and process are intertwined. In order to make progress at something, you have to surrender to the process. If you can learn to enjoy the process (and not just the tangible, verifiable progress you’ve made), you’ve won. The irony is that once you let go of your attachment to progress at something, you are actually increasing the likelihood of achieving it.

Whenever possible, and whatever the activity, my “goal” is to get better at enjoying the process, and not just my progress. After all, most (if not all) of life is process. Therefore, the best progress I can make at living is to increasingly enjoy — or at the very least, make friends with — the process of it.

Or, as Harry Chapin once put it in song: “It’s gotta be the going, not the getting there, that’s good.”

Originally published at http://inspiredlivingblog.wordpress.com on May 13, 2015.

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Personal coach, plus: writer, podcast host, musician, philosopher, outdoors enthusiast, biped. www.ericteplitz.com

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Eric Teplitz

Personal coach, plus: writer, podcast host, musician, philosopher, outdoors enthusiast, biped. www.ericteplitz.com