Why Progress is More Important Than Profits

Time after time I experienced this strange phenomenon.

No matter how much I would accomplish, after a while I would always find a way to slip back into feeling like shit.

I could wake up on the most beautiful beach in the world with the most gorgeous woman on earth with piles of money in the bank and for some reason my head would whisper softly to me: “Life Sucks”.

It seemed to come out of nowhere and really screwed with my head:

  • I’d get my life on track: Then I would feel lost.
  • I’d hit record-setting profits: Then I would feel like a loser.
  • I’d accomplish a goal: Then I would feel like my life was ruined.

Here’s what it looked like:

happiness and progressEach time I would make an accomplishment there was a period of short lived celebration and then I would hit a rut.

I knew that in reality, none of these negative things I was thinking were true. But for some reason I found myself falling into that same hole over and over again.

After going through this several times I finally figured it out. The problem almost always boiled down to one thing:

I felt like I had stopped making progress.

“To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.” 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Key to Happiness is… Progress

I remember the day it clicked. It was late January a few years ago. I was digging around YouTube and came  across a Tony Robbins video about New Years Resolutions. (It’s included below).

The video came out on January 15th, the day when according to Tony Robbins, most people abandon their New Years Resolutions each year. I had recently set my goals for the year so the topic was relevant for me, so being the Tony Robbins fan that I am, I watched it.

He started talking about New Years Resolutions as expected and then… Out of nowhere he said something that reached out and punched me in the face.

In that moment he solved my strange phenomenon forever.

*Watch 1:51 to 2:34 to see the part I’m taking about.

Quotes from the video:

“There’s no denying that inside of you the only thing that’s going to make you happy… is going to be having an experience where on a regular basis you feel like your life is making progress”

“Getting things is not going to make you happy… whether it be money or opportunity, all those things might excite you for the moment, but
the secret to real happiness is Progress

Goals Are Important, But So Is The Process

Without progress, nothing is possible.

  • You can’t make a million dollars online without methodically launching, testing and optimizing campaigns.
  • You can’t get into shape without going to the gym over and over adding more weight to your lifts over time.
  • You can’t write a book instantly, you write it one page at a time

Accomplishment Won’t Make You Happy (For long)

And the thing is, once you progress all the way through accomplishing your goal, you have to set another goal and start progressing towards that to continue to feel happy, as his quote says: “having an experience where on a regular basis you feel like your life is making progress“.

Here’s what that looks like:


The things is that more often then not, all it takes for me to feel good is to feel like I’m progressing towards a goal. It can be big or small, far away or near by, I just have to be heading somewhere. It’s simple, powerful and doesn’t require immediate success to work.

Feeling Lost? Do this.

Take a minute and think about whether or not you are making progress at something, anything in your life. And if you can’t think of anything, be honest with yourself about it.

  • If you’re making progress, feel good about it and keep it up.
  • If you’re not making progress, set a solid goal today and start taking steps towards it.

Then let yourself feel the progress.

  • Made a landing page faster today than you did last week? Progress.
  • Learned a little more about how to count your calories. Progress.
  • Wrote another 500 words for your book? Progress.

Accomplishing a goal feels good, but it can also take some time. So to keep yourself going remember: you can also feel good about the progress you make along the way.

  • Petre Veluda

    I would say that the “empty space” inside you could only be filled by a child, but it depends what motivates each individual.

    Ask yourself a simple question: how much can you achieve for yourself and for what? How much do you actually need if you are not passing all that “success” to your natural extension? This job will constantly keep you motivated to be better and always work to improve yourself. He or she will be the progress you make each day.

    But that is my opinion.

    I agree though, if you don’t enjoy and learn to love the progress you can go nuts especially when you are starting out.

  • Zach

    Good stuff Malan, couldn’t agree more!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks Zach.

  • http://www.ochoamedia.com Edgar Ochoa

    Simple, yet powerful concept. And you helped me understand it even better. Nice stuff.

    Today I feel good because I learned about Amazon Web Services and launched a VPS, and created another Adwords campaign… Feeling good 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      are you using Amazon for hosting? i’m looking into that today as well – after crashing a few servers this morning. curious how you like it.

      • http://www.ochoamedia.com Edgar Ochoa

        Truth is, I’m also giving Amazon Web Services a try. Just a few days ago I opened an account with them… So I’ll keep you updated Malan. And you know, I also heard good reviews about Microsoft Azure. You might also want to look into them.

      • http://www.benokumura.com Benny O

        AWS is great. I use Digital Ocean for cloud hosting on SSD’s. You gotta understand a little bit of server administration to get them going. You can scale up and down cloud servers as traffic goes up and down. If you’re worried about your servers going down you should look into load balancing. Digital Ocean has an article about that here: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-set-up-nginx-load-balancing

        They also have a ton of other articles to learn about command line server administration.

  • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

    just read through the wikipedia page. thank you.

  • Iliyan Deyanov Tsonev

    Very interesting post and very interesting video.Thank you Malan.Only good stuff in your blog!That’s why i checking it every day 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks lliyan, there’s plenty for you to read this month (daily posts)

  • Pete

    As well as performance marketers, I think the same can affect with anyone whose career can have massive peaks and troughs, like a musician who has a hit single, then years in the wilderness, or an athlete who gets Olympic gold and then suddenly get’s injured.

    Just a thought. Depending on the type of person you are, it may help to keep track of progress. If you’re a visual person, a mind map or a picture board of where you are now and where you aim to be So, you can get motivated by it, whenever you’re feeling down…

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yes Pete, definitely not limited to performance marketers. i think most people do this actually. we win, we get excited, and then we slowly go back to where we before. It can be seen in love/relationships as well.

  • Reid Yamamoto

    This is a great post and I can relate to the emotional peaks and valleys that I feel when I only look at results. I’m enjoying learning more as I allow myself to feel good about my progress. I love the “Progress/Now What?” graph. It’s worth a thousand words.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      thanks Reid, it’s quite a roller coaster ride isn’t it?

      • Reid Yamamoto

        Yes, my seatbelt is firmly fastened. 🙂

  • David M. Đinh

    Amazing theory. Always chased progress in powerlifting, but never applied it elsewhere in my life… d’oh. Great post, thank you for sharing!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Thanks David – and yes it’s just like the gym. Small improvements and consistent work over time lead to huge results.