What to do When You Don’t See Progress being Made

Josh L
4 min readFeb 21, 2022


And the likely causes of it

Photo by Tolu Olubode on Unsplash

Many of us invest time and effort into something but don’t see much of a return.

When this happens, we often feel “stuck in the mud” and frustrated with the little gains coming back to us. We may feel like we are putting in a level 100 effort but only seeing a level 10 return.

Don’t worry, you are not alone.

When this is happening, there are a few likely causes for it.

The first common cause is that you are trying to do something you aren’t interested in.

Maybe a friend told you that you would be such a good writer and makes lots of money fast. Maybe a teacher or parent told you that you need to be a doctor or a lawyer. Anything else would be considered a failure.

So, you work your ass off and get accepted into a top-rated medical school. A year into it, you realize you made a huge mistake. After all of the hard work, you can become a doctor. That’s great, but what you really want to be is an electrician.

It’s tough to say no when people we love advise us to go in a certain direction. We may know deep down it’s not for us, but we go this route anyway to appease them.

I am a prime example of this.

My parents pushed me to go to nursing school after I graduated high school. I had no idea what I wanted in life, ( I still don’t) so I followed their advice.

After all, they painted a picture of my future life that was hard to pass up. They told me about all the money I could make, job security, and endless opportunities. There was only one problem.

This was not the future life I wanted.

I knew this even back then. But, I had no better ideas and it sounded like a safe and secure plan. Plus it would make them proud. So, I put in the work and began nursing school in 2018.

Classes began in August. By the time mid-October hit, I was handing in my change of major papers to admissions.

My parents weren't mad. They were disappointed. It was an awful feeling. I felt like I let them down big time. I felt like an embarrassment and a loser.

Still, I knew it had to be done. I dreaded going to school every day and despised the clinical portion. I’m not much of a people person, and nursing requires a lot of interaction with patients and staff.

God bless the entire medical profession. I don’t know how you all do it.

The point is, I didn’t want to put in the time to become a nurse because I didn't enjoy the work that came with it. As a result, I dropped out as soon as things got tough.

In order to succeed, you need to like what you’re doing. Otherwise, you won't have the mental toughness to stick it out for long when things go south.

The next thing you need to look at is interruptions. Interruptions can cause your would-be progress to be cut in half. When you get in the zone you need to stay there for as long as possible.

We all know the feeling when we are completely focused and locked in. These moments can be hard to obtain. This is why when we get in one, we need to capitalize on it.

This means eliminating distractions and interruptions of any kind.

What does this look like?

It means silencing your phone when you begin to work. It means not listening to music. It means staying hydrated all the time so you don’t feel thirsty and have to stop to grab water from the fridge.

All of these interruptions take you out of the tour zone. They destroy your chance to make serious progress before it even begins. Eliminate these interruptions and you’ll be able to focus for a longer period of time on what’s important.

Finally, perhaps the most important reason you don’t see the progress you want is your belief system. I have talked about this before in the past and I’ll talk about it again.

You need to believe that you can go where you want to in life. If you work 24/7 but don’t have the belief you can accomplish your goal, you won’t do it.

Your brain will make sure of this. What you put into the universe comes back to you. This applies to both positive and negative thoughts.

Believe in yourself and you will see more return on the work you’re doing. Your brain is the most powerful tool on the planet. Use it to the fullest.