What’s Better: Bursts Of Progress Or Constant, Small Progress?

Our lives have many aspects including progress . They are things we want to do, have and be. Some of these desires sometimes conflict with each other – or at least seem to do so.

For example, I want to be a great mother and wife. Yet, I also want to trek in the Himalayas before I get “too old.”

I want to spread the mission that we can – and need to – make our brilliance scalable and immortal. I want to grow my business – and luckily, that is happening! Yet, I also desire what I call “dynamic work-life balance.” I seek the freedom that entrepreneurship potentially can deliver – if you play your cards correctly.

A dear friend who participated in a recent Brilliance Mining Cohort is writing not one, not two, but THREE books. She wants to create an impact on women in ministry. Her interests span from ministry and cooking to how to make your money go as far as possible. Yet, she is also planning to go on multiple cruises with her husband. She wants to explore parts of the world that always have fascinated her. Awesome!

The question is: Should she (or you or I) stop what we are doing to further our mission while we indulge in our other desires?

My thinking is that it is not an all-or-nothing type of scenario. You can always write one bullet (not even a complete sentence) per day about something that drives forward your mission while you are on your trek or your cruise – or whatever your mission may be (or while you may be preparing for it).

I expect to have a-ha’s while I’m trekking in Nepal. I’m committed to writing them down. Beyond that, I will soak in every moment of this adventure I have dreamed of since I was a teenager.

My point is: It takes some effort to get the “flywheel” of your mission to get moving. You push on it and at first, it barely seems to budge. You keep doing it. Finally, the flywheel moves a little. You keep pushing. It moves a little faster. You keep pushing. Over time, the “flywheel” is speeding up. It is moving!

Then you get tired. You need a break. Other things are coming up that need your attention. Some of them are dreams you have had for a long time. These are things you MUST do – just like your mission you feel called to do.

You Have A Choice

  1. Take a break and stop pushing your “mission flywheel.” Allow it to slow down. Risk of its movement stopping – leaving you in the position to get it to move again at a later time.
  2. Or: keep pushing it a little even while you are pursuing other dreams and adventures. I invite you to consider this option. Keep your “flywheel” (your mission) moving at least a little, even when pursuing other goals. That is SO CRITICAL!

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people get so close to realizing their goals. Their flywheel is humming. They have put in the effort it took to get to that. Then they have a “distraction.” It may be an awesome one. Cruises to Alaska. Treks in Nepal. Things from the bucket list.

Should we stop nurturing our “flywheel”? We can keep putting in a little bit of effort to keep it moving while we do those other things. It makes a big difference. When we come back, the flywheel is still moving. It is easy to step back into significant action. Otherwise, it may be as hard to re-start it as it was the first time we tackled the mission.

I’m Curious

Which option do you find yourself selecting? Take time off completely from your mission (“flywheel”) or stay at it in a minimal way to stay engaged while you take time to pursue other dreams?


  1. Srinivas Adabala on at

    I agree with the option of keep moving even if it’s smaller steps. If you stop, you are not just stopping but relatively going backwards. I know we shoud not compare with others but self, like in a race track, if you stop the gap increases. In other words we are competing with time we have breathing on earth. It’s words of stop, halt, discontinued, quit type of words VS words like working on it, progress, moving, next steps etc

    • Stephie Althouse on at

      Good point,Srinivas! When I wrote this nugget, I has not thought about the gap increasing relative to others. But true, it does when what you are working on is in competition with others. Also, even when it is not directly in competition, you delay creating the impact of what you are working on. The book you stop writing, the course you stop creating etc are all examples of that.

  2. Jacquelyn Martin on at

    In my humble opinion, daily progress is important even if it is small. Using a law of physics, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. The inertia required to restart the motion is much greater than that to keep it moving. However, if the only progress you make is small you might want to rethink your project and ask yourself, “is this is really the direction I want to be heading and how I want to be investing my time?” If the small progress is interspersed with times of significant progress, visualizing your end result will become easier and help you stay the course.

    • Stephie Althouse on at

      Well said! And: The sum pf even tiny but consistent steps forward is unstoppable!