Progress is a barbed arrow

Unless you were born into your ideal life (highly improbable), then we know that we must keep moving to improve our circumstances and quality-of-life. Most of us like to label this “moving” as progress.  However, let’s be specific… because it matters a lot here.

Moving is not progress unless we are moving in the right direction — a small change of rhetoric, but there major repercussions/implications (Tweet this quote).

What is most important about making progress is not moving forward, but rather, moving in the right direction (Tweet this quote).

For better or worse, as we make progress in a certain direction, it becomes easier and easier to continue moving in that same direction. Because movement feels good it can be difficult to pull back and objectively assess the real implications of the “progress” we are making. Whether or not that direction is the correct direction is the real question.

Progress also requires strong, predictable, and comfortable routines that created that progress in the first place. These routines, are often hard to part with. Not only is this difficult from a habitual perspective, but there is also a psychological challenge to parting with routine. One that implies they believe that’s difficult to challenge: what got me here will also get me to where I really want to be.

Seeing the arrow on the grass shooting to the upper right is usually a good feeling. Stopping, and pulling the arrow that is a painful process… Like pulling the quill of a Porky Pine out of your flesh. The pain of possibly seeing that era move in a different direction causes a conflict of interest. Our natural inclination is to protect ourselves from that pain in the interim, without fully considering the big long term picture.

Like many warnings in life, there is no precise prescription here to ensure all progress is positive. The best we can do is think and act strategically — behavior that appears to align with your goals, interests, and values. Beyond that, you cannot guarantee that you’re progressing in the right direction. Just don’t deny it when your gut tells you that you are (Tweet this quote).

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