Scales of progress

I’m feeling lately like I’m not doing “enough” with my time, as though I’m caught in a rut emotionally and mentally in my off hours. Work is great. I love the new job – the day-to-day tasks and the bigger project directions. But time at home less… fulfilling? Satisfying? Nourishing?

Maybe I’m unsure of the right word because I’m not totally sure what I’m looking for. Maybe I don’t know what I’m looking for because this is the first time, in a very long time, that I’ve had a significant amount of time, at home, consistently, that’s really all to me. This is the first time I’ve had an eight-hour/day job. I get in early, so I get home early. And this is the first time (aside from a few months last year) that I’ve lived alone. Ever.

The past 18-months have been eventful, to put it mildly. Separation and divorce. Two moves. A new romance. A new job. A new career direction. And that’s not even all of it. There have been nights and weekends, typically when I’m alone, that the stresses have weighed on me, broken my composure, bringing pieces of my past life to the fore. Often I find it frustrating, sometimes infuriating. “It’s been x year(s). When will I be done with this thing? I just want to move forward.”

Tonight, an idea struck. In fitness, I know that comparing today’s fitness level to yesterday’s is meaningless. Today I may feel better emotionally, psychologically, even physically if I exercised yesterday. But to see an objective change in performance, I know that I have to take a longer view – how do I compare to where I was last week? Last month? Last year?

Such are many aspects of life – especially recovery from or adjustment to those foundational shifts. Progress can’t really be measured day by day. It’s in the long view that I can see the difference. I’ve been pressuring myself to be in “top form” emotionally every day and to make tremendous leaps in “fitness” just… because. But, like when I exercise, there will be bursts of improvement, slow gains, and plateuas – and of course, declines can happen too. These can be tweaked by my approaches. But before I get too frustrated about a lack of progress, I need to take a step back and see just how far I’ve come.

If look back at where I was a year ago, I’ve come a very long way indeed.

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8 Responses to Scales of progress

  1. katiesci says:

    Great perspective, Belle! I’m in a better place than I was this time last year too and I need to remember that as well.

  2. Thanks for the perspective. I’m finding myself getting frustrated with my progress (deciding that I don’t think academia will work out for me and what am I going to do next sort of thing). I want everything to be final right now. Each year is getting better, though, and sometimes good progress really is incremental (despite that my grant reviews indicate the opposite!).

  3. Alyssa says:

    Yes, I feel this way often with my recovery from my stroke. Sometimes I feel like I make no progress, until I look back to see how far I’ve come. A good perspective to keep!

  4. Psyc Girl says:

    I really really feel what you are saying here. First, I struggle to figure out what I want to “do with my life” (including my free time) once I check off that giant tenure box and (supposedly) have my life back. When we finally have open time after working so hard for our degrees, etc., I think most of us in academia have no idea wtf to do with ourselves. Also, my divorce and other negative experiences come back to me when I least expect them – I think I’m “over it” and then realize I’m not. But I stopped trying and it slowly melted away – and you’re so right in this perspective you’re writing about. Also, I learned that the expectation that I would “return” to my “top fitness” before was misguided – in fact, I’m a completely different person with a whole new “top fitness” as a result of the things I’ve been through. Thanks for the great post.

    • biochembelle says:

      I’m a completely different person with a whole new “top fitness”

      Yes, this. It’s something that I often an not consciously aware of but important to remember – not about going back but moving forward.

  5. chall says:

    oh thanks for this! I need to remember the same thing, it’s not compared to yesterday (not even a month ago) but more over time. And when looking at that, indeed moved a little bit more. Still a work in progress though. As Psyc girl says “I think I’m over it and then I realize that I’m not” [as much as I think anyway]. Small steps out of the corner and then one day you’re on the stage….

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