It wasn’t the weekend I had planned. Chilly weather, wind and heavy cloud cover rolled in just in time for my lone beach getaway of the summer. Determined I set out to make the most of the day despite the weather. I never expected to find wisdom from a rather unlikely source – sea gulls! For many beach goers they’re the scavenger birds who swoop in and try to steal lunches or they’re the birds that seem to watch you from a short distance away seeming to laugh when they squawk. But on that day they unexpectedly became the teacher.

5 Secrets to Making Progress:

It’s not just about your effort.

Watching the seagulls, I noticed one lone bird flapping its wings as hard as it possibly could. But, it wasn’t moving even the slightest bit forward. No amount of effort seemed to make the difference until it made one change – its direction. Instantly the wind propelled the bird forward with a fraction of the effort. In life we can get stuck being just like this seagull. We try harder, push more, work, work, work but seemingly to no avail. If you’re flapping as hard as you can and not making progress, check your direction. Pray about it. Do you need a minor or maybe even a major adjustment in your direction?

It’s not about everyone else.

While the one seagull flapped vigorously, other birds soared and swooped. But the lone bird couldn’t look at the others and wish for a change, it needed to make its own adjustments. The birds didn’t all need to fly at the same speed in the same direction to call their day a success. In life we too often get caught seeing what those around us are doing and wish we were where they are or had their success. Envying someone else will never advance our journey. Be inspired to do your best. Don’t judge you based on what other people are doing but rather measure your progress on how it moves you forward on your journey of life and how it helps you find and pursue your purpose.  Be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself to them. Then, go be the best you that you can be.

Sometimes resting is the next step.

Watching the seagulls I couldn’t help but notice that sometimes each bird would stretch out it wings and simply glide in the wind. Although they weren’t flapping, they were positioned in the wind so that they were carried forward even while they rested. In life sometimes we need to do just that. Rest is an important part of our journey. When we’re positioned in the right direction, rest doesn’t set us back but instead allows us to reenergize and be renewed, ultimately carrying us even further.

Effort impacts progress.

One bird in the flock stretched its out its wings facing the wind didn’t flap. But unlike the birds soaring at rest, this bird hung nearly suspended in one spot. It didn’t glide forward like the others but rather just stayed “stuck” right where it was. On the outside rest and lack of effort may appear to be the same. They aren’t. One revives and creates room for progress, the other causes us to stay stuck, motionless, remaining right where we are. Progress requires effort but good progress requires effort with the right direction. If you find yourself feeling stuck, like nothing is moving forward, check your effort along with your direction. Are there small steps you can take to reset and begin making progress again?

 A change in altitude can be just what you need.

The suspended bird lingered motionless suspended in the sky for some time. Then without warning he tilted his wings slightly and climbed to a higher altitude. When he did, he took off. Sometimes a change in attitude or focus can give us just the change in altitude our spirit needs. In life we need to remember that not everything is about us. When people or situations get us down, we may need a new perspective. A delay that kept us from being where we wanted to be could be just the necessary diversion to allow us to be right where we were meant to be for a greater purpose. When you feel stuck, ask God to change your perspective so that you can see opportunities where you once saw challenges.

When my family decided to go to the beach for the weekend, I never expected to sit on a bench and watch sea gulls. But even more of a surprise was the mind-shift I brought home. As I look at my daily activities against the dreams I have, I’m going to remember those birds. I hope they inspired you too! Which one of these do you need to do? Comment and share. Then commit to making one change to make it happen this week. What do you need to do? I’d love to hear from you.

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