At the pole studio, we encourage our students to take photos and record videos.
We all do the selfie thing; and not just because it's fun to show off a little sometimes to our non-aerial friends, who gasp and wonder how on earth we do what we do.
We do the selfie thing because it's a record of our hard work.
Flexibility training is a perfect example.
I'm determined that 2020 will be the year I get a flat split. I've been "trying" to do so for several years, but haven't managed it yet (because I kept giving up). I've got close a few times.
The thing about flexibility training is it's really bloody hard, fairly painful, and often boring.
And it doesn't feel like you're making any progress at all. In fact, some days it feels like you're going backwards. Which is just about as frustrating as having an amazing jar of home-made blackberry jam you can't open.
When that happens, when the teeth-grinding fury at all the hard work and pain for no visible results hits you, it's all too easy to simply give up. To say, "none of this is making any difference! It's bullshit! I'm done."
When the new pole dancers struggle to climb the pole or invert, it's simple to say, "this isn't working for me. Why can't I do this? This is bullshit. I'm done."
When you're trying to write a book, or grow your email list, or connect with new clients, it's effortless to say, "nothing is changing. I'm still struggling. I can't find new clients. This is bullshit – I'm done."
But it is working. We are getting more flexible. The new polers are getting stronger. And the business owners are making progress.
It's just that we can't see it. Which is why we take snapshots.
We think that unless we can make giant leaps forward and see enormous and sudden improvements in what we're doing, we're not doing anything.
It's hard to keep going when keeping going is hard (and boring).
We're conditioned by social media (and other media) to believe in the overnight success and expect sudden big results ourselves. Real life doesn't work like that, though.
So some time ago – a couple of years ago now – I stopped chasing the big prizes. I took my eyes off my goals.
I started chasing the 1% and I started embracing boredom.
If I can get just 1% better at what I want to do every single day, I won't notice the improvements day by day – but my goodness, at the end of a year, all those 1%s will compound into something magnificent.
We'll change so slowly we won't see it – until we see those before and after shots, and all the progress in between.
And doing that is all about habits. Get into the habit today of doing the thing you want to improve every single day. And get comfortable with being bored sometimes because doing the same thing over and over again is boring. But it's the only way we improve.
Want to be a better writer or write a book? Write every day. Just 100 words (but hopefully more). Read every day. Just a little.
Want to do the splits? Stretch every single day, even if it's only one simple exercise on some days. That's better than nothing.
Take a snapshot now – an actual photograph or a note about where you've started (say with your first 100 words) – then mark off every day you do it again. Take another snapshot once a week or once a month.
Whenever you get discouraged and feel like you're going nowhere, pull out your first snapshot and your last, and you'll be amazed at the difference.
Most of all: don't give up. Give up, and the only guarantee is you'll never get what you want.
p.s. hit the comments below and tell me what you're trying to improve and what you're going to do every day to make it happen.
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If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she's not doing that, she's hanging from a trapeze by her feet.