I’m a big proponent of thinking in the now. When you future dreams have no connection to the present, they have no real chance of happening. Even more, I believe that your actions, goals and dreams shouldn’t be focused on getting to some arbitrary future landmark but so that you can experience growth in the present.
There is just one problem with this view. It can often be very difficult to see the growth and gains you are making in the present, if not impossible. Rarely have I experienced a moment in my life where I new I was growing. I only later realized that I had grown in retrospect.
So much has been written on the need to persist. People often give up way too early in the pursuit of their goals and dreams and they give up for the wrong reasons. But I believe the reason that persistence can be so difficult isn’t because of a lack of self-discipline or willpower. I believe it is because it is very difficult to see the growth you are achieving while you are taking action.
Growth and purpose are the fundamental keys to happiness. The feeling that you are improving your life and that this improvement has a meaning. However, if you can’t experience growth in the moment, it can be too easy to give up. So how do you keep going and persisting even when you are blinded to any results you are making in the moment.
The answer is to start by looking back at your past. Even though you can’t experience the feeling of growth in the present, you can see its after-effects over the past weeks, months and years. Even though I don’t notice myself making giant steps in improvement, all I need to do is scroll back through my memories of the past to see how far I’ve come.
Take some time out each day to look through your own past and notice the growth and purpose that you are working so hard towards. There may be some areas of your life where improvement has been sharp and dramatic and others where it has been quiet and slow. Not only does doing this help provide you with a direction for your future growth but it motivates you to keep going.
What if you haven’t been improving or improvement has been slow? The answer to this is to have faith in the future. Time is going to pass anyways, so you might as well be investing it in your own improvement. Many areas of growth have a tipping point so that an incredibly slow increment of improvement eventually leads to a huge windfall.
Take a few moments and look back at where you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. Where have you improved and gained from the experiences in that time?
Now look ten years into the future back at your current self. Where have you improved upon your current standing?
If you are finding yourself getting frustrated at a lack of progress, just remember that growth can’t be experienced directly, only noticed in retrospect.