How to Make Forward Progress

Tokyo, 2017

In life, photography, and our personal self-growth; let us seek forward progress.

When we are climbing up a hill, we need to learn forward. If we are a world-class skier, we need to lean forward. Agile animals lean forward. Fast sports cars have curves that arch forward.

Nature loves forward progress. Nature gives us forward progress through evolution, through survival of the fittest, and through adaptation.

Small changes

In life, it is hard to make a huge change in a day. For me, I try to make myself a little less bad of a person each day. I try to be less impatient, less petty, less envious and jealous, less rushed, less materialistic, and less mean. I try to take away from my vices each day, and press forward to continue to improve myself.

If you look at nature, nothing grows quickly. Everything grows slowly, but steadily. Trees grow to great heights over decades and centuries. Animals take a long time to grow from infant hood to adulthood (same as humans). Food takes a while to grow, until we can reap the harvest.

Always lean forward

In my photography, I try to make forward progress by being more attentive. I’m starting to realize that the biggest obstruction I have to becoming a better photographer is my mind. My mind is constantly distracted by work, by family drama, and by my smartphone. I have lost my ability to “notice” as well as I did in the past. I have lost my ability to just enjoy my own company, standing around, and being bored.

In-fact, I feel that boredom is probably one of the best ways to improve your photography. Because if you’re bored with your photography, it means you’re not growing. Not only that, but if you’re in a boring situation or place, you might force yourself to walk around and take photos to cure yourself of boredom.

A simple tip: to make forward progress in your photography, figure out how to be less distracted. Less time on your phone, less time worried about stress in your everyday life, and less time being petty about things that don’t really matter.

Forward progress in life

Let us also try to train our minds each day. Let us read and consume wholesome and healthy information. Let us try to abstain from ‘junk food’ (and information junk food) as much as we can. Avoid websites, blogs, and social media platforms which you feel are just feeding you sugar, junk, and crap. Only consume the information which you feel will empower you.

Make forward progress by creating things in the world. Not just by thinking of ideas. I think that true innovation comes from being a tinkerer, a doer, a hacker, and someone who experiments. Nobody will know if an idea will work or not— you just have to try it out and get your hands dirty.

Less talking, more doing.

Forward progress in health

If I could have it my way, I would live to be 120. I know that won’t happen, but I am trying to live as healthily as possible, to keep my mind sharp, my body strong, in order to write more, think more, meditate more, and help more people.

To me, forward progress in health also means taking away ‘unhealthy’ foods, rather than consuming ‘healthy foods.’ So I think it is better to stop consuming sugar, soda, fast food, simple carbohydrates, and artificial foods rather than “adding” blueberries, kale, and grass-fed beef into my diet.

Also with exercise, I try to make slight forward progress by steadily adding the weight to my work outs, by adding repetitions, by increasing the duration, or increasing the intensity. I seek to just be 1% stronger each day. I know that will compound over a lifetime.

Don’t lean back

The last point I want to make about forward progress is don’t lean back when things get tough. If you’re a boxer, if you keep on retreating, you will lose your steam. If you’re a race car, you don’t want to take your foot off the pedal.

Be strong, seek 1% daily improvement in all fields of your life, and don’t be afraid of pain, failure, or mental agony. You’re stronger than you think.


Learn more Philosophy >