Challenges Coffee Break

110 – Daily Progress

Daily Progress

“Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.”

— Epictetus


Often, we find it difficult to take the steps to improve in an area we’re weak in. We can see how we want to be, and we get impatient when we’re not make the progress that we think we should. It also hard because we often know what not to do, but we don’t quite know what we should do to get where we want to be.

When I was in high school, I accidentally ended up in choir. And I do mean accidentally. I missed the bus for home so I was waiting for my brother to finish up what he was doing, and was convinced by two girls to try out for the choir while I was waiting. Apparently I didn’t completely suck because I made it through auditions and into the choir that year.

But to be honest, I wasn’t all that great when I first got into choir. I was put with the second tenors and had a really hard time singing my part as I would find myself ending up singing melody lines with the sopranos. It was frustrating at times because I knew that I was singing the wrong notes, but I didn’t have yet the ability to hear and sing the tenor part.

This went on for several months, with each day getting a little better and me being able to hold my part a little better and less getting off track and singing the melody.There were a number of steps that I took to help me get better at singing. 

  • I made sure to sit next to other strong singers so I could hear the tenor part.
  • I took my music home and would play out the tenor notes on my piano so that I was more familiar with them the next day in choir.
  • At times I would stop singing and just listen to the singers next to me to be sure that I heard the part correctly
  • I took voice lessons to help strengthen my voice so that I could sing more clearly.
  • By the end of that first year, I had improved enough that I made it into the show choir the next year.

When you want to make real progress taking a small step every day, no matter how small, is what is going to get you to where you want to be. Grand gestures are all well and good, but we often burn out because we can’t sustain that level of focus. There are plenty of steps that we can take that are for more sustainable and will keep us moving forward after our initial enthusiasm has waned.

  • Doing things like surrounding yourself with other people who are more skilled than you and following their example can help you make significant progress as they can share things they’ve learned, and support you in times when you need it.
  • Setting time aside each day to deliberately focus and practice on what you’re trying to improve in can help you be ready for when a situation arises where you need to use that skill.
  • Finding a mentor who’s been down that path can help you avoid pitfalls and obstacles as well.
  • And lastly, be patient. Judge yourself not by where you are today, but by how much progress you have made.

Remember, you can’t expect to just magically be good at something. You need to put the work in. If you are moving forward everyday, even just a little, you’re on the right path.

That’s the Stoic Coffee Break. Have a great day!