Climbing the ladder, or climbing the corporate ladder, has become synonymous with growing a career sometimes through greed and sometimes by working hard. It incites a different emotional response from different people.
But climbing a ladder is very similar to the systems and habits approach to improvement. Both rely on small, step by step action to get closer to a goal.
But most people aren’t interested in taking steps towards their goal. Instead they want success in a flash of lightning. They want instant results for the minimal work they tend to put out. They rely on a short burst of work and hope that is enough to catapult them to their goals.
But it isn’t that simple. In fact, we have to change that formula around. We have to have consistent, high levels of effort for long periods of time. We can certainly have short lapses where we take a step back and relax, but if the lapses become longer and longer, we may just find ourselves so far from our goals that we can’t imagine a path except to hope for an instant win.
I see this all the time. Someone in debt might not feel that they can climb out, step-by-step. So they resort to gambling the little money they have. They can’t imagine their dollars earning enough interest to become anything substantial so they put it in risky investments or play the lottery for that chance to win enough to change their lives.
But there is a better way. We can all start to slowly make the necessary changes to grow and improve. It might be a long, difficult road but if we start taking small, consistent steps we can move closer and closer to our goal.
As we climb the proverbial ladder we can always change our approach. If we do, many would argue that the work up to that point was wasted. But this is far from the truth.
As we make progress towards our goals, our perspective changes. Just as we can see more as we climb up a ladder, we start to gain a clearer picture of our goals and what it will take to reach them as we make progress towards them.
It will also build confidence with each small win. It will also reveal insight into our true motivations as we grow.
I have found that it is much better to make a change, even a drastic one, after making progress towards a goal. To go back to the metaphor of the ladder, it is as if changing after 15 rungs of a ladder put you 10 rungs up on the ladder next to it, not back down to the bottom.
So if you are uncertain as the direction you need to take in life, start making progress. Find areas that can help you grow and improve and start taking steps. You may not know where it will lead but if you keep making progress you will certainly get closer to any future goal that you set than you are right now.
The systems and habits approach to improvement relies on this concept. The approach focuses on making small, consistent changes. The focus transfers from being perfect to making progress. This is how you can start to transform your life and become the person you want to become and reach the goals you dream of achieving.