If You Haven’t Made Progress in a Year

You never know how your year is going to go. I often try to predict mine, and my predictions are usually nowhere close to what actually happens. Nearly inevitably, though, I make a bunch of progress in one way or another. If that wasn’t the case, major alarm bells would be ringing. Major major alarm bells.

Setbacks happen to everyone. It is totally possible that something so major happened to you that you were unable to make progress. I know people who have gotten cancer or have lost a close family member or something like that. Yes, those and others are reasons that you could have justifiably not made progress in a year.

If nothing like that has happened to you, and you haven’t made progress on things that are important, it’s time to ring the bell.

So the alarm bell is rung. What can you do about it? First is the hard part—admitting that you are doing something wrong. None of us want to believe that. We all want to think that we’re doing everything right and that eventually it will all work out… but sometimes we’re not. If you haven’t made progress in a year, the odds that you’re doing something fundamentally wrong are huge.

First I’d check fundamentals. They’re not sexy, but the difficulty of doing things right if your sleep, diet, and habits are way off is multiplied. Spend a week and get those things back to reasonable.

Then look at where your time and effort are going. That examination should begin with a heavy bias towards assuming they are being misspent. Maybe you will eliminate every other possible scenario and realize that you are on the right track but have had a number of totally random setbacks. Probably not, though. Go in assuming that you are spending your time and focus incorrectly.

What are your goals? The ones that matter and have massive leverage on your life? Are those the ones you’re working on? Lots of people are scared of failure or success, so they work on other goals.

Are you actually working on the most direct plan of attack towards your biggest most important goals? You wouldn’t believe some of the obscure roundabout ways in which people approach their goals. Don’t sneak up on them, hit them will a full frontal assault.

Identify which parts of you are getting in your way. Not external circumstances, not bad luck, not the natural obstacles we all have. How are you getting in your own way? Are you giving too much of your time away? Are you allowing yourself to be distracted? Are you spending all the money you’re earning? Do you sabotage every relationship you enter into?

Humans have an impressive ability to minimize our own contributions and magnify external factors. Don’t allow yourself to do that, or you are simple converting yourself into a passive bystander in your own life. Control the factors you can, exert massive pressure on them, and trust that the factors outside of your control will pale in comparison to your actions.

Whether you think life is short or long, a year is a nice chunk of time. You can do a lot in a year. If a year passes and you haven’t gotten closer to what’s important to you, it’s time to make some adjustments.


Photo is the insane view at sunrise on E’mei Mountain in China. I think as westerners we tend to overlook some of the incredible beauty of China.

Just hit 200 days in a row of completing the NY Times Crossword puzzle on the day it comes out with no hints or cheating. It’s still one of my favorite joys in life.

I’m going to be doing another Superhuman event soon. Maybe November/December, or early 2019 if that’s too hard of a time for people to travel. Email me if you want to be involved in the scheduling, otherwise an announcement will come soon when I see what days work best for the most people.

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