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Progress is almost never dramatic.

Big wins, sudden breakthroughs, and “aha!” moments are what we’d all love to experience.

But in my experience (ha), those happen really, really rarely.

oatmeal bread cooling on rack

In pretty much every area of my life, progress has happened slowly over time.

My piano skills are what they are because I’ve been playing for 35 years.

My blog has never had a stage of explosive growth; it’s just gotten to where it is due to 12 years of steady writing.

I’ve become pretty competent in the kitchen because I’ve been practicing almost daily for 30 years.

I see this with my kids too.

Math skills build slowly over time.

Art skills come with repeated practice.

Writing improves a tiny bit with each essay.

saxon math 54

I think this concept is helpful because it can assist you in setting realistic expectations for yourself.

If you expect to get good at something really quickly, you’ll want to quit when that doesn’t pan out.

But if you expect small, regular improvements, you can meet those expectations, and you’re going to be more likely to hang in there and keep working.

You’ll get better at budgeting as you practice.

Your savings accounts will grow slowly over time.

Your debt will get paid down month by month.

Your frugal skills will improve bit by bit as you practice (cooking, baking, DIY-ing, second hand shopping, fixing, etc.)

You’ll get gradually better at mindful spending (which means that at first, you’ll still have a fair number of slips into mindless spending.)

You’ll get better at cooking at home one meal at a time.

whole wheat bread

Nothing magical is going to happen right away when you start making changes in your life. (More’s the pity!)

But in the same way that tiny grains of sand make up a beach if there are enough of them, your small changes and little bits of practice can add up to something really significant over time.*

*It’s worth noting that this is true of positive changes AND of negative changes. They both add up over time to something big.


Slow, incremental progress is normal; don’t be discouraged by it! As long as you keep moving in the right direction, you are going to make tons of progress.

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Thursday 16th of May 2019

Such truth! I have made a habit of looking back every so often to see progress. Especially with parenting and watching my son overcome physical disability. There's so much work to be done, but he's so much better than he was, and I'd miss that if I didn't recall what life was like 1 or 2 years ago.


Thursday 16th of May 2019

This is sage advice. So many days I sit in front of my computer doing the bills/banking/budget and I just want everything paid off NOW. But, you are right, I’ve accumulated debt in small increments so it’s going to take regular increments over a longish period of time to send it in the opposite direction. One thing I do each morning is open my debts and assets spreadsheet and subtract $1 per day from my mortgages and loans. It’s a super conservative number but it’s easy to remember and I can see the amounts owing going down and my net worth going up. Whenever I get my statement in the mail, I update my spreadsheet with the (always) lower balance and my total debt tumbles down further. It works for me. Some people go on Facebook first thing in the morning, I look at my numbers. It reminds me how to spend my money. Love your blog.


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Thank you so much for this encouraging reminder!


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

This is such a great reminder! I think I will need to re-read this post many days!!


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

1. Just celebrated first whole year of two hour long yoga classes per week. Making new friends. Learning balance and feeling much better. 2. Will join a church choir in the fall. Two ladies in yoga class are members. 3. Also will sign up for keyboard lessons at a piano store. 4. Have my old second hand piano in living room. 1920s up right. 5. Was a big girl: called roofer and got new 50 year roof and all new wood repairs and soffits and gutters ...covered ones. Wrote out check for all of it with money I saved.

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