We progress by moving forward. It may seem obvious but at the same time it can be easy to succumb to stagnation.
Picture this. You have a job that pays okay. But you don’t really like it. Well, let me put it this way: You like the money, but you wouldn’t do that job if there was no money involved.
“Screw it, I need money to have a life!” You might think.
We all have bills to pay, people to take care of, and important tasks to complete. We do these things because if we don’t, we might get fired and lose our income.
And without income, we can’t pay for our house, clothes, vacations, etc.
I’m describing a “normal” life. I call this normal because this is how 99% of all people that I know live.
After years of living a normal life, you get the hang of it. You know what to say and do to keep your job. You also know what time you can wake up so you can barely make it on time to work.
I know because those thoughts went through my mind when I had a job I didn’t like. And every week, I’d set the alarm a little later. I was also ready to leave work when that clock hit 5 p.m. on the dot.
Human beings are smart. We adapt quickly.
And that’s exactly our biggest problem. We easily get trapped into what I call the “excitement and acceptance cycle.” Most of my life went like this:
A new “thing” can be anything: A new job, goal, desire, relationship. You get excited about something, but after a while, you always get into an acceptance phase.
And that’s what I want to avoid because acceptance means stagnation, which means a lack of progress.
“Is stagnation bad?”
Most people probably don’t mind stagnation. They just fill up their life with pleasure and entertainment.
Who cares, right? Just accept where you are in life. Protect the status quo. Keep your job. Put in the minimum amount necessary to keep your business afloat. And just cruise.
You can easily go through life without personal growth. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But that doesn’t work for me, personally, for one reason: I think a life of only entertainment is useless.
But still, I’ve stagnated many times in life. And I’m sure I will stagnate again at some point. But here’s the thing: If you stay put for too long, your situation gets worse.
There’s no such thing as protecting the status quo. The famous actress and philanthropist, Helen Hayes, who was one of only 12 people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, said it best:
“If you rest, you rust.”
Those five words capture the essence of progress and why it matters. And if look at my own life, I can give you many examples to demonstrate that.
When I started my first business, I learned a lot during the first two years, but my growth stopped after that because I didn’t understand this concept. I just stopped pushing hard. Did I get tired? No, not really. I don’t know why I started taking things easy. It just happened.
Same is true for my blog. I started in 2015. But a few years later, I kind of stopped coming up with new ideas and concepts. Again, I don’t know why. I guess it’s human nature.
But not for everyone. And fortunately, we can study other people and learn from them.
Progress is about moving forward. Success comes after that.
Take Kobe Bryant, one of the best basketball players of all time. For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by his mindset. His obsession with practicing is unheard of.
He was always the first person in the gym and the last one out. In the summer 1999, when everybody was resting, Kobe was making 100,000 shots. Not taken. He made 100,000 shots during that summer. He made progress while most of his peers were not.
And in 2000, 2001, and 2003, he won championships with the Lakers. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Kobe Bryant didn’t rest or stagnate. He could have easily thought: “I can just take 100,000 shots.” But instead, he strived for makingthem. Because that’s what mattered to him.
It’s about getting better every day and moving forward. It’s about progress. Look at it this way. What’s the other option? Sitting back in your beach chair? Giving up?
Accepting the “realities” of life? Screw that. If you want something, go after it.
To me, there is no other option. I’m not here to rest OR rust. I remind myself of that all the time.
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