Progress... how you know you are making any
I just got back from dinner with three Uni friends, two of which I haven’t seen in over a year. One thing they said really struck me. “It’s amazing that it’s still going though Jo, it’s impressive you having your own business and it’s actually well… working out.”
It’s so easy to forget your achievements when you keep focussing on the problems.
I saw something the other day that read: ‘remember a time when you wished you had what you have now.’ It really makes you think about all the things you have that you’ve worked hard for, or never really took the time to be properly grateful for.
Whilst walking up a mountain you might pause to admire the view and appreciate how far you’ve come. This helps motivate you onwards knowing that over the next crest will be a change of scenery and a different view. However while desperately trying to make progress on a seemingly never ending process it’s not quite so easy to turn around and see how far you’ve come. In my experience there are two methods that when combined will suddenly make everything seem a whole lot clearer:
Work out what it is you actually want to achieve.
I recently read Dave Trott’s book One Plus One Equals Three (a MUST READ if you haven’t already) and one particular story stood out to me as it so clearly summed up something I’ve come to realise over the last year.
Someone giving a talk asked a member of the audience to stand up and share their one goal in life.
“I want to be the best actor in the world” they said.
“I asked you to share your one goal, that’s two, so which one is it?” was the reply. “You either want to be the best in the world, or your want to be an actor. If you want to be an actor, you might have to be satisfied with not being the best in the world but be happy knowing you are following your dream. But if you want to be the best in the world at something, you are going to have to try out lots of things until you find something you are naturally the best at.”
Firstly you need to work out what it is you want to achieve. And this is so much harder that it sounds because it always feels like so many different things. We want success, we need money, we hope for recognition, we crave praise… But if you don’t know what you are really working towards it’s like holding up a map with no defined destination; you can walk in any direction but you won’t get any closer to an end point that isn’t fixed. Only by really acknowledging and embracing your dream can you start to work towards making it a reality.
My dream is to build the world’s most successful design agency for startups.
There. It’s written down in black and white. And now it’s no longer a dream, it’s a goal.
Record your goals, recognise your progress.
Everyone is different and will have different methods for managing goals and recording progress, but the important thing is to record it. A dream written down becomes a goal which then broken down becomes a plan that is not only actionable but shines a spotlight on progress.
Within an organisation these progress reviews and plans are appraisals or employee reviews. I carry out 3 monthly reviews with each member of my team and whilst it is a platform to address the difficult questions and concerns, it’s also a chance to look back at the goals written 12/24 weeks previously and recognise and celebrate progress made. As a founder or manager of a team however, it is easy to overlook the importance of carrying out this process on/for yourself.
Whilst goals can often be shared by team members, dreams are unique, so you cannot base your individual progress on the progress of others. So make sure you take time to review your own progress and even more time to celebrate the steps you’ve made towards achieving your dreams.