Are you familiar with the joy that comes from knowing that you are making progress? I hope so. Because the satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are headed in the right direction is a powerful, motivating feeling.
Life can be discouraging. The world has troubles, and we, as individuals, have troubles. Plenty of those troubles are out of our control and as such, they are not going to respond to attempts by us to fix them.
In light of that reality, how can we maintain a perspective that enables us to carry on, doing the very best that we can?
Dr. Glasser, in his identification of basic human needs, suggested that one universal need is the need for power. Because the word “power” has so many connotations, I think that his assertion is sometimes misunderstood.
Satisfaction of the power need doesn’t need to be about having power over others (although some people do choose to satisfy their power need that way.) There are plenty of ways to satisfy that power need that don’t involve interfering with other people.
One interpretation of the power need is that it is the need to know, for ourselves, that we have worth and value. That we are special in some way. That we matter.
For some people, this is obvious. Of course, each of us has value! All of us have our strengths, talents, and gifts. (Also, by the way, our weaknesses, challenges, and flaws.)
However, other folks live their lives questioning their value, not knowing their purpose in life, doubting whether they matter at all. This uncertainty would make life a struggle which may not be visible to anyone but themselves.
My suggestion, based on observation, is that one effective way to give ourselves helpful recognition is to make progress toward a goal that matters to us.
Maybe you think that goals are for others—business people, investors, politicians. If you are having trouble recognizing your own value, you might think that high-falutin’ goals don’t apply to you.
But essentially, setting a goal is just a way to say, “This is what I want.”
Maybe you have a big want, like a career, education, or a house in your favourite neighbourhood. Maybe you want to eat better, change your weight, or get more exercise. Maybe you’d like to learn to play the fiddle or make a meaningful contribution to a cause you care about.
Whatever the path, recognizing your progress along the way can help you keep going.
Let’s look at the journey toward the goal as if it’s a walk in the woods. If we keep going in the same direction, we will make progress in that direction. However, if we stop moving, give up, sit down, or turn around, then, sadly, we don’t.
Even small steps, taken regularly and consistently in the same direction, get us closer.
There’s an infinity of difference between doing one thing every day toward a goal and doing no things every day. An exercise idea I’d come across suggests doing just one dumbbell curl every day. What will that do? It’s unlikely to build much muscle, but it will build a habit. And that habit will build more.
So, if you find yourself questioning whether you have value, take a look at what you want. Are you making progress? If you feel like reality is ready to bite you in the behind whenever you turn around, maybe…don’t turn around?
Choose a goal. Create a purpose for yourself. Then start. If it’s a goal you care about, keep going, whether you seem to make quick progress or slow. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take encouragement from your own persistence. Onward!
Are you making progress on your goals?