All You Need Is a Little Bit of Daily Progress

Matt Lillywhite

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“Imagine who you could be and aim single-mindedly at that.”

Jordan Peterson wrote that beautiful line in his recent book, Beyond Order. In it, he discusses the importance of imagining your ideal life and doing everything within your power to create a better future.

A great example of this concept being applied is Joe Biden. Aged 21, he was on vacation in the Bahamas and saw a beautiful woman sunbathing by the hotel pool. He sat down, introduced himself, and began talking about his aspirations to become a senator by the age of 30, and eventually, President.

Against all odds, Joe’s incredible work ethic enabled him to achieve both of those goals. At age 29, he was elected to the US Senate. And several decades later, he became the 46th President of the United States.

If you’re wondering why all of that is relevant, let me give you an answer. Vision and perseverance are powerful tools that are necessary to improve the trajectory of your life. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s often difficult to make progress towards a better future.

Choose How You Want To Be Remembered

Right now, stop whatever you’re doing and hug your mother, father, sibling, or partner. Or, if you’re not in the same location, send them a text saying, “I love you.”

The reason? Today could be your last day on earth. Although it’s an uncomfortable thought to embrace, it’s true and certainly within the realm of possibility. Because like the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, once said:

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

When I was born, I was taken away from my mother and spent two weeks in an incubator. A few years later, my mother and I nearly drowned in the ocean off the coast of Western Australia. Also, I’ve had several near-death experiences over the past few years.

Our time on this earth is limited. You’re going to die someday, and so will everyone you love. But in-between now and that inevitable moment, you have the power to decide how you’ll be remembered.

Sure, you can sit on the couch and eat Pop-Tarts all day. Heck, you could also watch Netflix and not speak to your friends or family. And if that’s what you genuinely want to do, go ahead. Do whatever makes you happy.

But chances are, you want more than that. When loved ones are reading eulogies at your funeral, you probably want their words to be filled with praise. Plus, it would be amazing if they talked about how much of an impact you had on their lives and how you made everyone happy whenever you spent time together.

But for all of that to happen, you first need to make an impact on the world. And a great place to start is by realizing your potential and embodying the characteristics of your ideal self. As Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today:

“If you wish to be the type of person who is kind, generous, well-read, has integrity, advances in a chosen profession, or pursues justice, then act accordingly. Think about the opportunities that exist in your life (or find ones) to make them happen.”

You can choose how you want to be remembered by acting in accordance with your values. Because although it might be difficult to change the world, you can certainly change yourself. And little by little, every single one of your actions will have a positive impact on the lives of those around you.

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

That’s a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. In essence, it means that you’re probably not going to make a lot of progress overnight. After all, meaningful change takes time. But with a little bit of vision, patience, and perseverance, almost anything is possible if you have the right work ethic.

To begin the journey of creating a better life, take a few moments to imagine your ideal life and the type of person you want to become. Here are several questions to get you started:

  • Where do you want to live?
  • What’s your ideal daily routine?
  • How do you want to help and support your loved ones?

Ask yourself those questions and write down the answers on a sheet of paper or in the notes app of your phone. Then, create a list of tangible steps you can take to make each aspect of your dream life a reality.

I’ll give you a personal example. In 2019, I wanted to become a professional writer. I said, “If I can wake up and write articles to earn money, that would be a pretty damn good life.” So, I began writing new stories every morning to improve my writing ability. And although it took several months to make a meaningful amount of progress, I eventually achieved my dream of becoming a full-time writer.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that absolutely everything will go your way. It probably won’t. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and there will probably be several moments of adversity. But 99.9% of the time, they’re outside your control as you cannot change the outcome.

Instead, try to focus on the aspects of life that you can always control (such as your actions). Concentrate on the little things that you can do each day to make continual progress towards a better future. Because if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will eventually arrive at your desired destination.

I’m going to leave you with a beautiful quote from Ryan Holiday, who perfectly sums up what I’m saying:

“In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answer. Our job is simply to answer well. Right action — unselfish, dedicated, masterful, creative — that is the answer to that question. That’s one way to find the meaning of life. And how to turn every obstacle into an opportunity.”

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