Friday, March 22, 2013

Making progress stick

It's Friday afternoon and you're looking back at a week of work. What did you accomplish this week? If it feels like nothing, look again. You did make progress and if you don't notice it, you will probably lose it. So if something is better now than it was on Monday, it's a good time to pay attention.

Paying attention to progress helps stabilize it in your mind so that it becomes part of the assumptions you take into Monday morning. It's often not enough to prevent slippage. What you need is to add a little oomph to progress so that it stays in place until you can get back to it.

Here's three ways to add oomph to your progress, illustrated with examples from my own week.
  1. Notice the progress and give it a metaphor.  For instance, this week I have been away at sea without my usual landmarks to chart progress.  But when it's dark, I can look at the stars and begin to notice that I have moved.  Sometimes it is only in the dark that we can focus on the signs that we really are moving.
  2. Think of someone who helped create your progress or who would applaud it. A very dear friend gave me an extravagant bouquet of flowers this week. Through her eyes, I can see something worth celebrating.
  3. Give yourself a task over the weekend that is related to holding onto the state of progress. I'm going to practice parking extraneous concerns when I park my car so that I can pay full attention to the learning and teaching I will be doing.
Notice, relate, and take action.  You'll find that Monday morning, you're ahead of the game.

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