This process reminded me of Ashley’s beautiful post about being happy where we are. In it, she refers to the “gradually, then suddenly” concept from Hemingway’s book, The Sun Also Rises. The idea behind that concept is that we focus on the suddenly because it’s easy to see and feel. The gradually is harder to grasp, but it is happening all the time.
What a simple, yet beautiful and relatable idea. When you make progress, the changes are gradual…sometimes so gradual, you don’t even notice them. Sometimes they are so small, you get frustrated and want to quit, because you feel like you’re stuck in place…or maybe even going backwards. But then, suddenly, you notice a change. In a big way.
Here are three areas I’ve noted progress in my own life recently:
1. Yoga. Last night, in yoga, I held crow pose for about .2 seconds for the very first time. For some, crow may not be a challenging pose, but when I started hot yoga in September, I remember watching the instructor demonstrate the pose in disbelief, never thinking I could actually achieve it. But last night, after months and months of attempting to lean forward without fear of falling and lift my feet balancing on just my arms, I suddenly achieved the pose. It’s funny because just a few days ago I was beating myself up a bit because I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for months, but didn’t feel like I was getting any better or making progress. But, “gradually, then suddenly,” I did. This gives me so much hope that all the other poses I think are impossible right now will be achievable down the line with practice. Perhaps there’s a headstand in my future, after all?!
2. Career. When I was a student at Temple University nearly four years ago, I couldn’t wait to start my career in public relations. The one part of the job I was dreading? Media relations. After all, pitching ideas, following up and developing relationships with journalists isn’t easy. In my first job out of school, I barely did any media relations, but in my current position, a large chunk of my job is working with the media. I was literally terrified the first time I had to call a TV station (I still get butterflies before making those calls) But guess what? After getting more comfortable with media relations, I LOVE it. I love researching reporters, crafting the perfect tailored pitch for them and working to build a connection that results in a fantastic story. I still hit walls all of the time, but when I get a “yes” from a reporter or even a reply that works toward building that relationship a little more? That’s progress.
3. Healthy living. My Timehop app (tell me you’ve downloaded this app…it’s incredible!) reminded me that three years ago this week, I began my healthy living journey by getting serious about running. When I became a runner, everything changed. I started eating better. I exercised regularly. I ran my first 5K. And from there, it was a complete ripple effect. I lost 30 lbs, ran tons more races, started doing Zumba, worked with a personal trainer, took up yoga…but mostly, I found confidence and happiness. It certainly wasn’t an immediate change. It has been a three year journey that continues still today. But as I read that tweet from three years ago about my first day of Couch to 5K training, the first word that came to mind was progress, and how incredibly important small and seemingly non-important steps are to achieving a goal and having that aha! “suddenly” moment.
So even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress, hold on. Keep going. Whether you can see it or not, you ARE making progress.
And just wait, because right around the corner is that beautiful “suddenly” moment where it will all click and encourage you to continue moving forward.
In what areas of your life have you noticed progress recently? Share in the comments below.