Every time I leave my barbershop with a fresh cut, I think to myself, “Oh wow. I forgot how much better I look with a haircut.”
Then, several weeks will pass by, my high and tight becomes low and loose, and I consider getting a haircut again.
But at this point, I look in the mirror and say, “This really doesn’t look much worse than the fresh cut. I’ll let it go for a while longer.”
And when I finally get the cut, I’m back to, “Oh wow. I forgot how much better I look with a haircut.”
Why does that happen?
Compared to the rate of progress of most things, hair grows pretty quickly. But when you look in the mirror as often as I do, it’s still pretty impossible to see just how fast it’s growing.
But every day the baseline changes just a little bit, so it’s hard to keep in perspective just how much has changed over time because your point of reference has changed. But in the case of hair, you can quickly recalibrate and see the stark difference once the cut is done.
Gradual changes are easy to underestimate. Even with examples like the Grand Canyon and phrases like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it’s easy to look for instant gratification and overnight success.
But many accomplished folks say that we constantly overestimate what we can do in a short amount of time and vastly underestimate what we can accomplish in a longer period.
Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and they underestimate what they can do in two or three decades. #iamnotyourguru
— Tony Robbins (@TonyRobbins) October 25, 2016
So when things seem to be progressing slowly, take heart. Think about how far you’ve come and press on. All the little bits add up to something powerful.