Progress and Improvement Aren’t Linear, Give Yourself Permission to Zig and Zag

I began karate training in January 1989 in a system with seven belts; white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black.

Progress was pretty standard, 3 to 4 months per belt up until blue, 6 months to brown and 1 to 1-1/2 years to black. It varied a little, but if you trained regularly, that was your timeline.

I followed that progression almost exactly, and I think it is the only thing I’ve ever accomplished where I flowed along the “standard” progression.

Standard progress is so rare that I now wonder where these “standard” progressions come from, so maybe it would be better to think of them as “ideal” progressions, rather than “standard” progressions.

Making that mental shift, from standard to ideal, would help us with our goals. If you set a goal, and as you work toward it find yourself falling behind the standard progression, you have the natural tendency to get down on yourself. That leads to frustration, a feeling of failure, and the temptation to quit.

Better you should think of ideal progress, which gives you wiggle room. Room to slip. Room to fail. Room to forgive yourself for not being able to keep up with the ideal student.

More and more, that is what I do.

Five years ago I set the goal to be an online entrepreneur. At the time internet millionaires were promising the sun and the moon, instant riches with a 4 hour work week, and it would only take a few weeks to get there.

Finally, only now, am I seeing tangible progress. I’ve finally acquired enough knowledge and skill to actually begin doing it for real, i.e. for money, not just for fun.

If I hadn’t given myself permission to take a winding road, not a straight line, I probably would have given up.