Progress is never permanent

Something very quick before I am off for my Eid break.

I think I have mentioned that I always have an unhealthy relationship with progress in a sense that I am impatient. Once I learn something new, I want to be good at it right away. I also think that I am impatient because a lot of us have no idea how it feels to, you know, get there — wherever there is. However I now try to be kinder to myself and much more pragmatic, and try to accept that I’m getting better in a form of progress as long as I keept at it — more like a means to an end, rather than the end itself — which is being good at things.

One of the examples would be exactly this: the practice of writing at least 300 words a day here. Miss a day, and I would feel like something missing. However, if I miss enough days — which had happened before (check the archive in 2017 to see how many months I had missed) — it’s easy to let it slide. Then it gets harder to write again, because the practice of mentally structuring your draft every day is waning. You no longer give much importance to it, and slowly the words slip away from you. You can read as much as you want — which what I do every day as a voracious reader — but it’s all consumption, and no creation.

Jason Fried of Basecamp was asked for an advice for someone who is still in school and about to graduate. His answer:

The advice was this: Habits are always forming. No matter what you do, you’re also forming habits too. Keep that in mind with whatever you do.

When we talk about habits, we generally talk about learning good habits. Or forming good habits. Both of these outcomes suggest we can end up with the habits we want. And technically we can! But most of the habits we have are habits we ended up with after years of unconscious behaviour. They’re not intentional. They’ve been planting deep roots under the surface, sight unseen. Fertilized, watered, and well-fed by recurring behavior. Trying to pull that habit out of the ground later is going to be incredibly difficult. Your grip has to be better than its grip, and it rarely is.

So be aware of what you do, what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it. Every do digs deeper. Every does grips stronger.

Then there is the idea that progress is never a permanent thing, but something we often need to maintain — as mentioned by Zadie Smith:

Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.

In the future, I would like to talk more about progress in a form of community and something collectively, especially in this world where a lot of us are becoming more aware of the societal issues. How do we be in peace with (sometimes, slow) progress when everything is moving too fast? That might take a lot longer to ponder and ruminate, and that might be the content for another post.

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