Why We Should Celebrate Invisible Progress

08.11.23 |

Progress is a difficult idea because we misunderstand what progress can actually mean.

We often frame progress as a journey. You started here, and because of the steps you took, you ended up there. You moved from point A to point B, and the distance between those points is viewed as progress.

For a road trip, that progress is measured in miles – how far you traveled. For building a house, that progress is measured by completion – how much you built. For many of us pursuing optimal wellbeing, we measure by pounds – how much weight you lost.

That progress matters, but it is also not the whole story. Before I take my sailboat out for a long journey, I work through a detailed checklist to prepare. Keeping a sailboat in top condition is a cycle of maintenance and care that never really ends. In season or out, you have several choices to make that can have a big effect out on the water.

The effort to successfully sail a great distance can begin months before the boat ever leaves the dock. But that part isn’t as fun, so we talk about it less. Doublechecking that an emergency radio works is important, but it doesn’t look great on social media. As a result, most of the story we hear ignores the work that is invisible to everyone else. Hardly anyone will hear about all of the effort that went into departing safely and well-prepared. Ever. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t photograph well. And it can be messy, tedious, and arduous.

The Habits of Health Transformational System is full of this kind of crucial work, and I want you to know that the effort that no one sees matters. That moment when you walked by the donuts in the office without stopping to eat mattered. Those few minutes you journaled at the end of your day mattered. That time you carefully counted your breaths before reacting to a stressful situation mattered.

Nobody saw any of this happen, but you did. Be proud of that effort and progress even if it’s invisible, and don’t be afraid to encourage others to celebrate their own invisible progress.