Last week, people were posting their year-end recaps and discussing the year that was, and I noticed several admit that they thought 2020 would be a special one, where everything would fall into place. I, too, had similar hopes about my writing, thinking I was going to flood publishers and agents with my query in an effort to land a contract for a book I’ve had on the shelf for five years. I started out doing just that, until reports of instability in the industry made me halt my pursuits for a few months. In the end, I sent out just sixteen queries all year, with a mere five of them going out after March.
2021 is here, and as I mentioned in my last post, it has some high orders to fill. The turn of every year brings optimism and hope for big transformations, but I’d venture to say this one surpasses most of those prior to it. Seven days in, however, and the shine of it seems to have tarnished in the eyes of many. We still see the not-so-great news reports every day and continue to have to take the same protective measures we lived with for most of last year. So far, it’s like 2020 version 2.0.
How, then, can we try to reach for goals when we feel like we’re on a stationary bike? From my experience, we have to adopt the right mindset towards progress. When it comes to my publication efforts, it’s disappointing to sit here with no more prospects for the book than I had twelve months ago, but a modest evaluation of where I am has made it easier to swallow. While I didn’t receive an acceptance letter, I drew some interest from a company that resulted in valuable input that I can use to better develop my story. Besides that, the compliments the editor gave me strengthened my confidence in its potential, even if it needs a bit more work.
That’s the way I’ve had to approach my professional endeavors as well as personal ones. Success rarely comes in leaps but rather, in little skips, and you can’t take any of them for granted. No matter how small, each one contributes to your desired outcome. Often, though, you have to perceive those tiny steps to even recognize them.
I was reminded of this recently when I watched old videos of my journey to learning how to walk as a teen. The coaches who helped train me had me walk a hundred meters on a weekly basis and timed me to track my advancement. After viewing the ones we recorded, it surprised me to see how fast I improved my time, only for it to plateau for the next three years. I began to question how much I’d progressed, until I realized that my form and stability had improved despite my slower pace, which benefitted my overall performance.
Similarly, it takes a while to achieve the results we want and in the way we want them, but that doesn’t take anything away from the strides we make to reach them. Everybody encounters setbacks, and frustrating as they may be, they can better us and our pursuits. It’s up to us, though, to let them do that. If we give in and permit them to embitter us, we likely won’t excel past our current predicament. But if we accept the obstacle and see how it can propel us to our destination, we’re sure to grow from it and might well appreciate it in the long run.
Thus, be patient with 2021 and with yourself. You may not be able to attain your aspirations with the speed or efficiency you’d hoped to, but you’ll get there with persistence and ambition. Celebrate even the smallest measures of progress, with confidence that bigger ones will someday follow.
3 thoughts on “A Proper View of Progress”