I. Fluid Progress – Like Water

By Leon Ho, Founder of Lifehack

In the flow of life, we often find ourselves waiting for that elusive ‘something’ to occur before we can truly relish our existence. We paint vibrant dreams of a glorious future, but lock them away in a treasure chest, to be opened only at a certain ‘perfect’ time. “I can finally enjoy life when I retire” is a common refrain. But here’s the twist:

What if the fluidity of life allowed us to slowly morph our future dream into the realities of our present moment, piece by piece?

Life isn’t a game of extremes; it’s not purely black or white, all or nothing. It’s a vast canvas brimming with different shades, each representing a part of our existence.

Our dreams should not be excluded from this canvas just because they’re not completely realized yet. Instead, they should be seen as a part of an ongoing process. A process where we gradually grow and gather the elements of the life we desire in a more natural and flexible way, rather than rigidly adhering to a preconceived plan.

So, the question is, why should we wait for that “something” before we can live our future? Why not incorporate the pieces of our dreams into our present, enjoying a foretaste of the future we aspire to?

Focus on the Progress over the End-Results

An obsession with the “end result” or the final goal can often cloud our view of the journey that leads us there. We’re so laser-focused on the destination that we forget to check if we’re even on the right path.

The key is in realizing the power of ‘progress’, of taking one step at a time, rather than leaping towards the finish line in a single bound.

Let’s think about it. If you’re not reaching your goal, the immediate response is often to question the achievability of the goal itself. But, could it be that our processes, our methods of reaching that goal, are faulty? Rather than doubting the mountain’s height, shouldn’t we be checking if we’re climbing it with the right gear?

Behavioral psychologists often emphasize the importance of self-discipline and willpower when it comes to achieving our goals.[1] But let’s not forget, these aren’t traits we’re born with – they need to be nurtured and developed over time.

If our goals demand a sudden burst of monumental self-discipline, it’s likely we’ll be overwhelmed and give up. It’s like asking someone who’s never jogged a mile to suddenly run a marathon – it’s unrealistic and discouraging.

Instead, refocus your attention on the process, breaking down your time into smaller, manageable segments. This way, the task of achieving our goals doesn’t seem daunting.

Rather than fixating on the discipline required to run 5 miles at a stretch, why not just focus on improving our run by 10 minutes each day? It’s a small step, but it’s progress.

fluid progress

This subtle shift in mindset, from end-result obsession to a focus on gradual progress, could be the difference between giving up on our dreams and turning them into reality.

Let’s bring this idea to life with a story from Jesse Itzler’s book, Living with the Monks: What Turning Off My Phone Taught Me about Happiness, Gratitude, and Focus.

In one of the book’s insightful episodes, Jesse found himself assigned to dish duty at the monastery after serving food to over a hundred people. The steady influx of dirty dishes had piled up to an overwhelming count of 500.

From Jesse’s perspective, the task seemed insurmountable. The thought of cleaning hundreds of dishes was daunting.

Seeking some consolation, Jesse asked one of the monks about the number of dishes left to wash. The monk’s response was profound:

“You only have to do one. Just the one you’re holding in your hand.”

Suddenly, a task that had appeared mammoth-sized shrunk down to a simple act of washing a single dish. The monk’s wisdom had magically transformed the mountain into a molehill.

This story perfectly encapsulates the power of focusing on the process. A seemingly insurmountable task, broken down into its smallest unit, suddenly becomes manageable. It’s not about washing 500 dishes; it’s about washing the one dish in your hand. And then the next. And the one after that.

Like Jesse, we often view tasks as monumental challenges, beyond our capabilities. But in reality, behind every task is a simple process. We just need to find it and stick with it. If we repeat this process enough times, we’ll eventually find ourselves exactly where we wanted to be.

By shifting our focus from the massive end goal to the next small step, we are not only making the journey more manageable but also relishing each small victory along the way. This is the power of process, of progress, over end results.

The principle of focusing on progress, celebrating each small victory, and appreciating the process rather than fixating on the end result is elegantly embodied in the Time Flow System.

Progress Forward Like Water Flowing

Just like water that continuously moves and adapts to its environment, the Time Flow System embraces the inevitability of change.

We know that life is anything but a straight line. There are twists and turns, hurdles and detours. Yet, just as water navigates around rocks and through valleys, progress under the Time Flow System flows around obstacles and adapts to shifting time challenges.

It doesn’t demand a rigid and fixed path. Instead, it allows for flexibility and resilience, for the capacity to adjust and keep moving forward.

In the Time Flow System, it’s not about beating the clock or racing to an end goal, but about being present in each moment, taking one step at a time, allowing your progress to naturally flow like water.

By focusing on the present task – washing the dish in your hand, running an extra 10 minutes, writing another page – you’re better equipped to handle the constant changes and challenges life throws your way.

In a world that’s always pushing us to do more and do it faster, the Time Flow System reminds us to slow down, appreciate the process, and understand that progress, like water, doesn’t always flow in a straight line. But with patience and persistence, it still reaches its destination.