Incremental Progress is Still Progress

It can be frustrating at times to work toward a big financial goal, especially when it feels like you’re not making fast enough progress . You look at how much is left to go, and it seems like you’re never going to get anywhere. But that’s not the case — so long as you don’t give up.

Don’t lose sight

When you hit a wall like that, remember that it’s natural to get tired or discouraged when you’re doing a long slog. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get the job done. Remember that incremental progress is still progress .

And in some cases, incremental progress leaves a bigger and more permanent change in its wake. Just think of the Colorado river creating the Grand Canyon.  No one would argue with those spectacular results, but the river didn’t do it overnight. It took time and effort.

Focus on the right things

So when you start to feel discouraged with big jobs like paying off debt or saving up for a down payment, remember that it’s because you’re looking at how much is left instead of how far you’ve come already. Focus on the right things instead — things like:

  • the fact that you’re making a permanent change in your behavior that will have a lasting impact
  • the fact that you are making progress, even taking possible set backs into account
  • how far you’ve come already, compared to what things were like before you started
  • and how great it will be when you do reach your goal


Recharge, regroup, and redirect your energy on a regular basis, and you’ll find it easier to stay motivated. Talk with others who are working on a similar goal, but measure your progress against your own situation. Keep going, and the day you can celebrate complete success will get closer and closer.

Stick with your financial goal, and you will succeed.


  • Thanks for the pep talk – sometimes I get discouraged when I see how slowly a certain debt is shrinking or how long it’s taking to save a certain amount. But you’re right, every little bit helps!

  • I also employ a strategy of “checking out” for maybe a month or two and coming back and looking at the numbers. It’s like avoiding the monotony of watching paint dry. Putting the savings and investing on autopilot makes this easy.

  • Tanya

    Last year I used to track my Credit Card balances monthly. That got old and frusterating especially when you see the balance only go down by a few dollars. Now I track the balances at the end of every Quarter, This method is better and not so time consuming. I have paid off 3 small balances this year but the next payoff wont be for 2-3 months. I need to keep motivated but its hard when you dont have those quick wins.