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Moving Backward to go Forward

Progress is the process of making your life worse in order to make it better.

Think about it: everytime you make an improvement in some area of your life  (ie. dietary changes, work habits, new technology purchases, etc), there’s a learning curve you have to endure before you can enjoy the full benefits of the changes you’ve made.

A new diet, for instance, means you have to reinvent how you shop, what you cook, when you eat, what ingredients you pay attention to, etc. That’s going to take more time, money, energy, and attention than what you’re accustomed to spending. Do you remember the first time you bought a new smartphone? There’s a good chance that simple tasks like making phone calls and sending text messages were more difficult than usual at first because you had to familiarize yourself with a new operating system. After some time, however, the changes were internalized and it felt like you had been living that way for your whole life.

The failure to understand these dynamics of change are what most often undermines our feeble attempts to make progress. We vow to turn over a new leaf, life temporarily becomes worse, and then we say “I can’t take this anymore. It’s just too much work. Nothing should feel this serious and stressful. I don’t want to spend my life obsessing over what groceries to buy, what apps to download, what funds to invest in, or whatever.”

Remember this: before you get better, you first have to move backwards. So if it feels like you’re not making progress, that may be because you’re still in the process of unlearning and relearning. Chuck Norris refers to this process as the art of slowing down to go faster.

Keep going.

Even if you seem to be moving at a slow and frustrating place, keep going. It won’t always feel this stressful.

If you can persevere through the growing pains, you’ll be rewarded with new habits. Then one day someone will look at you and say “you probably have no idea what it’s like to struggle with something like that. You make it look so easy. I bet you’ve always been that way.” And when that day comes, go look in the mirror, smile at yourself, and say “congratulations on your new habit. I’m proud of you.”


T.K  Coleman

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