A decade in a review aka how do we really progress?
New years, end of decades and centuries and other man-made turning points.
These are the moments when we look back and revisit what had happened in our past years. In that flash of a retrospect, we decide, if time had turned to our benefit or else, we are showing a decline.
Earlier, I also used generic metrics to see the pros and cons on my timeline. Usually, I listed my work related achievements, the number of my most memorable trips and meetings, a simple lineup of my friendships, relationships and if they were there for a while and a pure count of the notable improvements in my health ( such as how many times I did sport activities). It was a focus on numbers, playing along with the saying, the more the merrier and any areas of my life hitting a high on this measure tape, I accounted it as a great success. I did not allow any additional thoughts or feelings to enter the equation. It was a classical score card math.
Then few years back, when doing the annual tick list on the 31st of December, I have pinned down issues which I could have addressed in March already. Only if I would have noticed them at that time. I sensed a great urge to apply some radical changes. It was making me feel super unsettled to look back after a full year, only to realize that I was walking 365 days on detours. From that moment on, I have decided to revisit every single day and see if my plans were fulfilled and my achievements and expectations met.
It was first a few minutes replay of my day which later turned into some journaling and went back to a mental exercise again. I have periods when I need to write and days when I just need a deep-breath long visual recall of the highlights or low points. Instead of doing yearlong wish lists and vague to-do notes, now I plan real action steps, make them happen and track them nearly instantly.
Do not get me wrong, big milestones and measure scales are important too, but revision serves us best if we practice it every day.
That's what brings and speeds up our progress.
As next on my `reassessment journey`, I slowly started to feel bad about the way how I do the cut-and-dried calculation. Suddenly the numbers felt off. Mainly, what bothered me was the fact that even though my stat showed a decline, my path was feeling totally upwards. I was so much better off to know that I can advance by making conclusions and adjustments for the better, on a daily basis.
But were my senses wrong or my measure was not accurate?
I turned a little inwards and decided not to look at numbers and socially approved scales but instead, I simply replayed my feelings and the things which made me be on my highs. I refused to participate in the generic social surveying but also did not sit down actionless.
I worked hard and consciously outlined the things important to me. I have included all the positive outcomes and fulfilling reactions which I would like to fill my days with.
I have listed all the characteristics I desire to carry and the type of ambiance and genuineness which I wish to be surrounded with.
Slowly my own weighing system was taking shape. Instead of crunching numbers and breaking my heart when they show less compared to the previous years, now I have learnt to value what moves me or moves me forward. For example, without forcing any events into certain categories, I consistently grab the highlights of my relations such as introducing two friends to each other who then got married and have an adorable baby girl now-makes me feel abundant joy-, another friend who accepted my advise and took a leap of faith to change her career for the better – I feel amazingly appreciated and very happy for her - or when we unexpectedly got reconnected with an old friend and we mutually supported each other through a hard change- I am grateful and know that all things come to us in the right time and stay with us for as long as needed…! I could go on with endless examples but I trust that you got the idea how this should be about you and not the generic measure tape…
Does this mean that progress is just a perspective?
Yes and no. You can pick up a simple act or trigger and tell yourself that it was or will introduce beneficial changes in your life. You can carry on blindfolding yourself however one day you will need to wake up and realize that thinking this way was not different than making yearlong plans and only revisiting them after the whole period had passed.
Progress definitely does happen, but only if we have the right motives and the will to put in the work. Progress is conscious and constant production. It is taking consistent and thought-over steps towards what you are expecting as an outcome. As well, catching the failures on time and yet continue when your first, second or tent attempt has failed.
We must be geared up not only with few pretty wish lists but a solid and personalized grid to continuously assess and celebrate success on our own terms.
Progress is certain and hasty but only if you consistently and personally scale it and create it.
Photos by Inga Gezalian, Charles Deluvio and Julian Dutton