Posts Tagged ‘progress’

How to Make Progress

Problem:

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.

Solution:

“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.

True?

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,

consistently,

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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Resistance: 1 Rex: 0

Problem:

You haven’t written a blog post in a long while, and your last one was about how to get unstuck.

Solution:

Write a blog post.

It’s amazing how I have to read my own posts to get motivated.

And what an ironic last post to get stuck on – The Number One Way to Get Unstuck.  Hey, just because I know what it is, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me.

That just makes it more painful.  It’s like the mechanic with a broken down car. Sad state of affairs.

Well, a pause or temporary setback does not mean failure, or the end.  It just means that there’s a perfect opportunity to move forward and progress.  To do better.  The game is not over, I just have less points than the Resistance.  It has scored.  But I’m working on a comeback.

And that’s what I’m doing here. Doing something… baby steps to get moving again.

Also,  just because a blog hasn’t been updated in a while doesn’t mean my life has stopped.  In fact, I’m just starting a new big project that will be exciting, motivating, and entirely taxing, but it will be worth it.  I haven’t decided whether to tell you about the details or not, so I’ll just tease for now.

Meanwhile, why don’t you go do something meaningful and tell me about it in the comments.  It might help me out.

Thanks.

Schedule an Event

Problem:

There’s nothing happening in your organization.  No excitement.  No momentum.  No forward progress.  No innovation or remarkable things to talk about.

Solution:

Schedule an event.  Sure, everyone’s busy doing their work.  Stuff is getting done and you’re delivering product to customers.

But if you don’t have events, it just doesn’t feel like anything is happening.  In a large corporation, sometimes you feel like you’re in your own little corner and disconnected with the big picture.  And maybe you are.

So having an event, a unique, out of the ordinary, one time event that gathers people together and gives them something to talk about, will create momentum.  Even if the event doesn’t turn out that well, or not very many people show up, the fact that you had an event means that something is happening in your area.  You are connecting people.

All your advertising to all those people who saw your announcement (even if they decided not to attend for whatever reason) created a perception in a lot of minds that something is happening and that they are missing out.  This perception or awareness has value in and of itself.  It signifies action.  It means a gathering is taking place.  And it reaches a larger audience than those who just show up.

And when people gather, things can happen.  Connections are made.  Relationships strengthened. Plans are developed.

It hardly even matters what the event is about.  Schedule an event.  You’ll make progress in more ways than you can tell.