There are different ways to consider progress and success.
3 years ago I was debt-free, had enough savings to live comfortably for about 6 months, and was giving away approximately 1/4 of my income to charity. I worked out regularly, could bench press 405 for 2 reps, and could run a mile in 6 minutes 10 seconds (I never was able to break the 6 minute mark). I also wrote regularly, with some of the writing being posted here.
Now, I have debt equal to approximately 4 times my annual income, and essentially no savings. I work out rarely, and last time I bench pressed 225 (my old warm-up weight) I was only only able to do 4 reps. Running a 7 minute mile now feels incredibly difficult. And you only have to scroll through the recent archives of this blog to see how little I now write.
On the other hand, 3 years ago I was single (with no real prospects of changing that). All my food came from the grocery store. I never saw my family, and often found myself bored to death on my days off. And every week I went to church and then wondered why I was there, frustrated by how empty it all was.
Now, I come home to my wife, my one-year-old son, and my infant daughter. We have a 35’x35′ garden in our yard, where Courtney grows fresh vegetables that make up much of our diet in the summer, and which she cans to provide a portion of our diet through the rest of the year. We harvest walnuts from our own tree, and have fruit trees that will begin to bear in a few years. I start many of my days with fresh eggs from my own hens. The exception is fast days. We are now catechumens in our local Orthodox church, and from the moment I first stepped foot in that church for a Saturday night vespers, I knew I was at home. Every time I am in church I feel an overwhelming since of peace as all earthly cares are cast aside, and I enter the presence of Christ and His Saints.
Now, to get some of those greater goods, I gave up some of the lesser goods. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get them back. While I am not making the progress on my debt that I was able to make when I was single, I am making progress. I expect to report to you soon that the only debt left is the house, and to someday report to you all that I am again debt free. I have started making time to work out a few times a week again, and this very post is a result of my efforts to begin writing again.
I wouldn’t give up what I have now to gain what I used to have–and the beauty is that I don’t have to. Don’t be afraid to give up good things, even things that you have worked extremely hard for, temporarily in order to gain better things.