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Progress is Not Made in a Straight Line

In life there are good days and there are bad days. We always want more good than bad and I think everyone accepts that you can’t stop the universe from delivering you a shit sandwich sometimes but you can always choose how you react. 

Just like we accept that there are good days and bad, we need to accept that working towards a goal or a target isn’t a perfect process. There are going to be setbacks. 

Intellectually obvious but practically difficult to consistently apply.

Using exercise as an example - it’s often the crappy workouts, un-fun runs or losing matches that deliver the most progress in the long run. We don’t learn much by winning. We learn a lot by losing because it makes it easier to understand where we can improve. 

It’s basic stuff and this isn’t exactly a hot take but how often do we forget this simple truth and give up? 

I've been writing a book over the last year and many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. I’ve hit more walls than I can count and generally doubted my ability to create something worthy of all the time I’ve dedicated to it. It's stressful knowing that all your efforts might ultimately be in vain. There’s always a lesson to take from it even if it does end up what I would measure as a failure. 

However - I don’t want it to fail. I won’t let it. 

Some days the words flow through you like a channel has opened from the infinite consciousness and your fingers are the embodiment of creativity itself. Your mind acts as a mere vessel for the muse made manifest on the page. 

Other days you’re re-reading what you wrote a couple of months ago and are staggered at the depths of your own inadequacy at conveying even the most basic of ideas. 

Realising that I would essentially have to start again once the first draft was complete was a tough and ragged pill to swallow. Actually accepting just how much work is required to make something you're truly proud of was a big mindset shift for me personally. Keeping that end goal in mind is what helps medicine go down. 

I always had the mindset that when something is done, it’s done and I’m onto something else. In the real world your first attempt is rarely good enough. 

With anything creative or anything difficult in general you’re going to get stuck and you’re going to get pissed off. If that wasn’t happening would it even be worth doing in the first place?

There’s an argument to be made for forcing yourself to do hard things is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 

Andrew Huberman talks about the levels of activation in the Anterior Mid-Cingulate cortex (aMCC) increases when doing things that we don’t want to do. By doing things that are hard. This improves willpower and tenacity by literally growing and strengthening the aMCC. This then bleeds into other areas of life making functional willpower and tenacity easier and more accessible. 

I don’t know anyone, myself included, who wouldn’t benefit from more tenacity and willpower. 

Showing up on the days you don’t want to show up are the times that move the needle most. 

Progress is not made in a straight line. 

We’re taking two steps forwards and one step back. 

As long as you keep walking, that’s OK. 

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