How to Make Progress


You can’t seem to make any progress on your projects.  You’re always getting distracted and rationalizing other activities that are not helping you move toward your goal.


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ” (Lao-tzu said.)

And that entire journey consists of a whole bunch of steps, one at a time.

So making progress is nothing more than putting one foot in front of another.

Sure, that sounds easy enough when you’re talking about a long walk.  But what about completing a large, complicated project?

The principle is the same.

The problem is that, in our mind, all the actions required to complete our project don’t show up as equal tasks that you can just string together, one at a time, in a linear fashion, like a bunch of steps.  It’s more likely to have a bunch of moving parts, that function simultaneously, involving other people, creating new ideas, making tough decisions, and balancing time with the other important aspects of your life.


Well, did you catch that one phrase?

“…in our mind…”

The fact is, we really can only do one thing at a time.

And in our mind, some tasks have been defined as hairy or difficult or complicated or huge.  But they really only consist of a bunch of small actions.  Sure, a lot of things may be happening, but you yourself are only doing one thing at a time.

So if we can redefine our project into smaller, simple, or easy tasks, and just do those,

one at a time,


every day,

it will be just like putting one foot in front of the other,

and making progress.

Before you know it,

our epic journey is complete.

It turns out that I’m not the only one with this thought.  People smarter than me have done some research.  And when Dan Pink (author of Drive) highly recommends a book, I listen. Check out The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.

To get an idea of the amount of research done and what the book is about, read the 6 questions Dan has for Teresa.

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