Incremental Progress or Extended Metaphor

“Progress is incremental.”

That sort of became my mantra at the beginning of summer, and it’s something I keep coming back to over and over. I don’t have to change everything at once, as much as I’d love to. That just leads to more failed attempts at change.

As I’ve talked about before, I have no shortage of grand attempts at change. A lot of them have been talked about in this blog; some of them have been attempted while I was writing this blog. Every time I’d try incremental change, I’d get two steps in, start feeling cocky, and then WHOA. That was the pride before the fall.

Boom, crash.

So, I’m avoiding that bit of fruit. I’m not going to pluck the apple of “DO EVERYTHING NOW, OK.” I won’t lie, though, it’s a tempting fruit. It’s sitting there, all ripe, with all of my problems so easily taken care of with one pluck. Unfortunately, it’s not one pluck. It’s a thousand fruits hanging on the tree, and I can never seem to get them all in one trip.

So I’m taking it one apple at a time.

I was thinking about this earlier, and another (unnecessary) analogy I came up with is trying to start a car in a higher gear. I wanted to go into fifth gear immediately, but the car was dying. Every time I’d start the car up again, it’d die. Finally, I stopped trying to start the car.

I needed to be started in first gear, though. Spend time in first, second, third, and so forth. If you need to go back down, you can, but if you go up and down incrementally, nothing every stalls. You keep momentum going, you keep positivity in your brain.

Incremental progress for me this week included getting my institutional review board form completed, my informed consent form completed, an abstract sent in for a poster session at a conference, reading for my classes, and some basic academic housekeeping. Next week, I add more playing into the mix, starting with my own lesson today and continuing until I have all of my other secondary students going. I started in first gear a few weeks ago, got second gear going, and now I’m about to change up into third.

Apples, cars, and other apt metaphors aside, progress is, in fact, incremental.

I can’t solve all of my problems in one go. I’ve come to this conclusion so many times in my life, yet it never seems to stick. Every time I start it, I fall into the trap of agreeing, then zooming ahead recklessly. And why? Because I think I should be a badass, a rockstar. I think that I should be bulletproof. I have this awful sense of superiority where none exists (and there isn’t even a factor to measure superiority). I’ve stopped comparing myself to doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others in my life that do different things than I do.

I’m me, I’m moving at my pace, and I’m making a difference in my life. Because progress is incremental.

After a breakdown (or two) this weekend, I’ve come back to that mantra. I tried too hard, too fast, and fell through. I was in first gear, got cocky, and pushed it to fifth.

Stall.

So I started up again, and went slowly. I’m back in second gear, ready to move up to third.

Progress is incremental.

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