August 1, 2018

In this age of #glowups, it can feel like the only type of growth is big growth—that Insta-worthy, life-changing kind of progress. Getting the promotion. Getting engaged. Buying the house. Running the marathon.

When we think about change, we often hyperfocus on these big moments as indicators of growth. But there are actually two change-states to be aware of: incremental changes (stepping) and disruptive changes (tipping). The first is the slow and steady type of change that often happens behind-the-scenes, and the second is the big boom moment.

Consider the whole caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation.

One day, a caterpillar is a legged worm crawling around on plants. The next day, it’s a beautiful winged creature fluttering in the breeze.

Or at least, that’s the story we tell ourselves. That's because the story of the big "tipping" moment is alluring—it's the most exciting to share and focus on.

But when we do that, we forget there are days when the caterpillar is in a cocoon or chrysalis doing nothing but eating itself into a ripe DNA soup that creates its butterfly form—just as we forget that the overnight successes and big change states follow some type of cocooning.

Overnight successes and big change states follow some type of cocooning.
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All of this is to say: We’re all in some form of incremental cocooning right now, despite how stagnant we may feel. We just forget to notice our slow and steady—and, yes, less exciting—progress.

We're focused on the big changes—hitting that new PR on the treadmill, getting that salary bump at work. But we're ignoring that it’s just as important to, say, spend one extra minute running this week or earn some kudos on a new assignment. You may not be #1 yet—scoring the big win—but you’re getting there.

Big wins make great stories. Small wins make great lives.

Big wins make great stories. Small wins make great lives.
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But both are part of the journey.

You deserve to savor your progress—both the boom moments and the smaller oh nice moments that inch you forward, too. And once you start looking for your incremental and disruptive growth moments, you'll feel that progress even more.

A version of this article originally appeared on Productive Flourishing.


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Take 5 and appreciate your small wins with our Honor Your Progress meditation in the Shine iOS app.

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