How do you measure progress?
Do you measure progress at all? Or does it just creep up on you without any notice? Is there only stagnation, no progress? If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the importance of continuous development in your life. Even though you and I know this, we are still vastly different when it comes to measuring progress. Some of us will track progress in apps with detailed analytics. Some of us will check in once a month, 6 months, a year. Some will journal regularly or irregularly. No matter which method you use, when you are becoming conscious about choices and start to make deliberate changes in your life, you will start tracking your progress. Even if it’s just in your head.
What is progress? What does it mean to each of us?
One definition of progress is “development towards an improved or more advanced condition”. Or in other words, setting out to loose weight, to start a creative hobby, to become a calmer person and actually acting on it. When you make the decision to work towards a goal and than start to take steps, no matter how small, you’re making progress.
Why to measure it?
As with everything in life, asking ‘why?’ can lead you to some insight. Your ‘why’ can be utterly different from mine. That’s the beauty of it. But let me give a couple of examples for why measuring progress can change your course of action:
– to serve as encouragement towards reaching your goal: seeing your progress, however small it is, will show you that you are in fact heading towards your goal. It will give you more pleasure and satisfaction, even more focus, because you know you’re heading somewhere.
– for future reference: if you’d like to see how you got somewhere or actually where your progress went wrong. If something went wrong, you can get back to the point you took a wrong turn and correct corse. You can always have reference points to revisit later.
What’s your ‘why’?
Progress in this day and age
Now that we went through the definition and the ‘why’, let’s talk about what we can measure. If you look outwards, to society today, measurable things will often be: salary, house, car, holidays, savings, luxury items, etc. Those are easy to track, easy to compare. You can see very easily if your savings grew since last year. That’s all good. In a way, they are showing you progress. But they are not showing the whole picture.
The changes that go unnoticed, are almost always the changes that actually promote the outer changes. A shift in mindset or your way of thinking, can lead to a better job or a new lifestyle. Focusing on your energy level and a better mood could mean finding a great friend or a companion, or having a better relationship with everyone around you. It can also give you more energy and motivation to act on those goals that have been neglected for years, exactly because you just “didn’t have the energy for it”.
The problem arises when you try to track these subtle changes. We don’t have solid numbers to compare, but there are ways to see how far you’ve come. If you keep a journal, looking back, you will be able to notice an overall more positive attitude. If you take stock of your life regularly, you’ll see a shift in mindset as well. You can look back at a problem you had a year ago. How did you handle it? Would you solve it differently now? Would you be kinder and more compassionate with the person who’s done you wrong? Would you let it go easier?
Ultimately, there are indefinite ways for measuring progress. The methods are as individual as each of us are. But the core of it all is to be aware and to make a conscious choice.