Why Steady Progress is Sometimes Better Than Immediate Success

I wish I wrote more on my blog.

I want to write more on my blog.

I’m going to write more on my blog.

How can I write more on my blog?

That was a series of thoughts I had in my head recently regarding the current sad state of affairs on this blog. Actually, this “conversation” has been waiting to come out for some time now. For a while it’s been like I was at a blog confession…

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It’s been months since my last blog post. These are my reasons why…

And then I’d go on making excuses for myself…to myself. You can imagine how complicated those conversations became. It wasn’t until this most recent time—when I really was honest with myself—that I finally started to make some progress answering this question: Why haven’t I written here more often?

See, it’s not that I don’t like to write. In fact, there are few things I enjoy more. Finally, after some careful, honest introspection, I came to a conclusion. It’s true, some things have made it difficult. Time is a hugely critical resource that I have very little of lately. But that’s just an excuse. Maybe even a symptom.

At the heart of all of the excuses and symptoms, one thing kept coming back. It wasn’t that I don’t have the time to write something, it was that I felt I didn’t have enough time to write something of the caliber I convinced myself I needed.

Without realizing it, I’ve been looking at each post I would publish here as having to be something that was earth-shattering. It had to be written so cleverly and packaged so neatly that it would completely blow away anyone who read it. My posts would always have to be my best one yet, inspired from the deepest parts of my mind, body and soul.

But that’s not true.

More important than Pulitzer quality, I think, is honesty, relatability, and value — both to myself and my readers. Only one post can be the best ever, but every post can be honest, relatable, and provide value. Ironically enough, when I finally became honest with myself, something else occurred to me.

Waiting for that kind of inspiration gets you nowhere. Even the world’s most creative people don’t do their absolute greatest work every time. Writer Anne Lamott refers to this as “shitty first drafts.” You have to write through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. Sometimes you find great stuff. Sometimes you decide the good, or the almost good, stuff will do — at least as a launching off point.

Going even further, I realized it’s not always about the outcome or the finished product. Sometimes it’s about the process. Getting from A to B and learning something along the way is often just as important (if not more important) than being perfect on the first try. The growth, the progress is often more valuable than the masterpiece.

As a dad, I’ve gotten better at reminding myself to be patient with the kids as they learn a little more and get a little better each day, but I have rarely given myself that same luxury to look at my blog (or my life for that matter) as a work in progress. Progress is the key here. Slow progress is better than no progress. Sometimes it’s even better than immediate success because it gives us a chance at more overall growth. We tend to learn more from our struggles than we do from the quick wins.

I’m going to put that philosophy to work here, and hopefully we’ll all benefit from the progress being made.

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