You do not make observable progress in any activity – in a work project, in understanding a topic, in learning a new skill; in a linear, step-by-step fashion. But that doesn't mean stuff isn't happening that you can’t see, so don’t sweat and keep going.
It’s like a kettle boiling. Nothing, nothing, nothing and then bam! Excitement, bubbling, steam! You don’t see the progress for the first couple of minutes, but you do see the rapid progress when it all comes together at the end.
That doesn't mean stuff isn't happening though. All the time, molecules are heating up, they are getting more excited,
their kinetic energy increases, they bang into each other more often. Progress occurs even when you can’t see it. The molecules haven’t reached a critical mass or breakpoint, and so even though stuff is happening, you can’t see the effect until a critical threshold is reached.
But it’s these small interactions over time, the ones you can’t see, that get you to that critical threshold. Without them, there would be no steam.
And so take heart when you’re in a situation and you think it’s getting nowhere. The interactions are occurring. Be patient. Look at the facts. Ask how you could make a small meaningful impact now. Focus on the process, on how you can gain momentum. It will all come together.