How to Stay on Track and Progress
Have you heard of Pearson’s Law? It states that, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
If you have children or are around any frequently you probably have observed that, while they’re growing up right before your eyes, you don’t really notice the little changes in height, weight and other nearly imperceptible changes that happen slowly yet continuously throughout youth. The law of familiarity at play. However, those who aren’t regulars in your child’s life such as distant relatives, community members and those we only see on occasion seem to be blown away at the rapid changes they perceive since last visit. By creating a simple routine where you measure your child’s height on a regular basis via a wall chart or series of photos will give you a better overall awareness of the growth and little changes.
Regardless of what area in your life you’re trying to improve, weekly self audits are priceless. Being able to see the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and even moreso – being able to measure your progress is going to help cement those goals in, bring them to fruition and create a sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Benefits of Reflection
Taking the time to just be mindful is a gift to yourself in it’s own right; Reflecting on your week, taking the time to think back on the victories and successes, celebrating progress and achievement are all paramount to growth and a feeling of fulfillment. Tony Robbins says that Progress is actually essential for personal growth and fulfillment. Small, incremental changes create momentum, compound over time, and help us move closer to our goals. But, another little-mentioned benefit of mindfulness and reflection is recognizing failures and setbacks – asking yourself what lessons you’ve learned from them is a priceless tool in your overall growth and achievement.
Think back on some past successes, whether it be in your personal life, business or otherwise. What feelings come up when you think about the big victories? What about the realization that you may have received, in hindsight, from an experience that, at the time, seemed like a total failure? Perhaps some of your greatest insights or breakthroughs came from what, in the moment, seemed like a horrible experience. Now, these might have been big events if you were able to pull them up so quickly, but imagine all the little moments you may be missing by not reflecting on a regular basis. All of those learning opportunities, wasted.
As much as it pains us to admit it in moments of failure, loss and apparent defeat, some of life’s greatest lessons come from those drear moments. What if instead of stacking all of that negative pain overtime – which can really wreak havoc on our mental and physical well-being – we learned to process the experiences, rewrite the script while it was fresh in our minds, and move on having a more empowering meaning for them. Journaling is a great companion to this practice, as it allows us to look back over time and gain valuable insights to encourage us, excel our growth and ultimately measure our performance.
The way and exact frequency that you schedule this audit or self-assessment into your week isn’t as important as actually taking the time to do it. Although, daily seems excessive and monthly seems a little too long in my opinion. Weekly audits give enough time to collect a manageable amount of data from a portion of time significant enough to get stuff done. You may have days where you took it a little easier on yourself; due to external factors, your personal life or even periods of sickness or vacation, but chances are after a week’s gone by, you’ve done at least something in the area you’re attempting to measure. If you haven’t, that’s a telltale sign that perhaps you’re not making any or enough progress in that area!
As with all things, making something a habit and integrating in into your routine will make it so much easier to stick to. I like to use Sunday evenings for self-reflection because it’s typically our rest-day anyway, and it’s the perfect quiet space to fit such an activity. Also, the weekend the end of our previous week and right before the business of the coming week begins, so it kind of feels right. Do what works for you – but no matter what you decide, schedule it or it won’t happen!
Self-audits can also help us see, from a birds-eye-view some habits or rituals that we may not even be aware of in our lives. Have you ever gotten in your vehicle and ended up at your desired location with little to no recollection of the drive there? What about your morning coffee, shower and toothbrushing, can you regale it vividly or do you barely remember the last time you actually thought about it? That’s because most of those habits are on “auto-pilot”, meaning, they happen so often that our brain decided to basically save energy and do them automatically without much input from our conscious mind. But, if those harmless little tasks are automated – are there any more sinister automations happening that we may also not be aware of?
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear recommends auditing your habits to identify the ones that you want to change or improve upon. He suggests asking yourself questions like:
- What habits do I have that are helping me achieve my goals?
- What habits do I have that are hindering me from achieving my goals?
- What triggers or cues lead me to engage in certain habits?
- What rewards do I get from engaging in certain habits?
At first, you may not have anything pop up or stand out to you. But, through the habit (no pun intended) of weekly self-audits, you can see over time what has become a regular occurrence in your life, and begin to see how the repeated actions correlate to the results you’re getting.
Keep it Simple
Now, you don’t have to journal or make a log of every moment of your waking life, or even make a big production out of it really. Start small and choose one or two areas where you really want to focus on improvement. Areas of your life where there is an obvious gap between where you are and where you want to be. Take note of this gap, making certain that the Standards you’ve set for yourself, and ultimately your Goals are set up so as to get you there. The late and great Jim Rohn says that Goals should be specific and measurable, they should be clear and well-defined, and you should be able to track your progress towards achieving them. He’s also a huge proponent of writing things down. Notebooks are your friend, my friend.
I hope I’ve given you some easy to follow tips and insights here so that you can begin to track your progress and see visible results. Having a mentor, a good friend you can trust and/or a life coach is an amazing asset to help keep you accountable and on track towards your goals. Don’t underestimate the power of community and human relationship. Iron sharpens iron.