Progress Isn’t Guaranteed: Don’t Get Frustrated with Your Progress (or Lack Thereof)

Progress Isn’t Guaranteed: Don’t Get Frustrated with Your Progress (or Lack Thereof)

By Shannon Del Prince

Whenever we set a goal for ourselves in life and actively work toward it, we expect to see progress. However, what many people don’t realize is that progress isn’t always guaranteed, and it’s essential to have patience with yourself throughout your journey. Although it may come naturally to feel frustrated with your current progress (or lack thereof), these feelings of frustration can be counterproductive, pulling you even further from your goal. Becoming aware of your state of progress is important, but it’s just as important to be realistic with the time frame in which you are aiming to achieve your goal.

What Defines Progress?

girl wearing bright yellow leggings and long hair stretching on the floor in the gym

Progress is defined by Merriam-Webster as a forward or onward movement, or as a gradual betterment.

Keyword: gradual.  

Progress doesn’t always happen instantaneously—sometimes, the process is so gradual, that it feels as if nothing has advanced whatsoever. Any steps you make toward a goal in mind count as progress, no matter how small the steps are. Progress is the act of making your way towards your destination, and there’s no set of rules in place to decide what is and isn’t progress. 

Progress Doesn’t Define Success

There’s no getting around it—in order to successfully achieve a goal, you need to make progress towards it—but progress in itself does not define or limit the success you achieve overall within your life. You can be a failure at achieving your goal if it turns out that success would mean something else entirely. For example, the popular saying, “the truth will set you free” has been incorrectly interpreted to mean that once you know the truth, you can successfully achieve goals. While this statement may be true in some cases, it doesn’t necessarily apply in every situation. Only when progress is made toward your goal and nothing terrible happens to prevent you from reaching your objective will it be viewed as a step on the path to success.

Additionally, it’s crucial to keep in mind that progress never comes with a set timeline. Just because you didn’t accomplish a goal within the desired time frame, doesn’t mean that you are unsuccessful in the undertaking. You just need to try again.

How to Deal with Lack of Progress

female athlete wearing workout gear and lifting a barbell
Athlete wearing LTD Donut Judge Me Knee Sleeves in image above. Photo courtesy of RMK Visions.

There are several ways you can deal with frustration and negative feelings associated with a lack of progress. The first step is to become aware of these feelings. In your pursuit of a goal, try not to become too attached to your expectations surrounding the progress you are making. It may be hard, but it’s important to remember that progress is not guaranteed. If you are expecting to see progress at each moment along the way towards your goal, you will undoubtedly be disappointed when you don’t. Secondly: take a step back and be honest with yourself about why exactly it is that you are frustrated with your lack of progress. Is it because of unrealistic expectations? If so, try aiming to be more realistic in your outlook on the time frame in which you believe your goal can realistically be accomplished.

Helpful Tips

  • Keep statistics on your progress and refer back to them to remind you that even though it may feel like you aren’t making any progress, you are.
  • Don’t become too attached to your progress; if you do, then progress will no longer motivate you and vice versa. 
  • Give yourself time to make your progress. The goal should remain your focus, but if you become obsessed with progress and can’t see your goals within the process of achieving them, then it’s important to step back and ask yourself what you truly want out of all of this. If you don’t have a clear answer for that, it is unlikely that you will experience fulfillment as a result of reaching your goal.
  • Remind yourself that the definition of success is not solely dependent on making progress toward achieving your goal.
woman wearing a weightlifting belt with flowers on it and standing in front of a pink brick wall
If your goal is to lift heavier, try one of our weightlifting belts! Petal to the Metal shown in image above.

Progress is rarely linear, and it can be quite easy to become frustrated with your progress. However, it is crucial to remember that progress will be made, even if you don’t always feel as though it is. The key is to not give up on your progress and don’t place too much emphasis on how long the process takes. Instead, stay focused on achieving your goal, while remaining self-aware of the realities of life and how they may affect your goals. By realizing these things ahead of time, you can learn how to deal with a lack of progress without becoming too frustrated or allowing yourself to get discouraged.


What motivates you when experiencing a lack of progress on your fitness journey?

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