If you aren't measuring your progress, how will you ever know when you've achieved your goals. One of the life habit principles is that you must measure how well you're doing, and take active steps based on your progress.
Measuring progress is essential to success
Are you trying to lose weight, yet don't weigh yourself? You're not alone. One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to achieve any goal is that they don't create metrics, or yardsticks against which to check their progress.
How to Measure Progress in Your Personal Goals: Daily, Weekly and Monthly In this article by Belle Beth Cooper, she looks at some great tips for measuring your progress.
Although there are some people who advocate for dropping all your goals or focusing on systems instead of goals, I’ve never managed to fully give up on setting goals for myself.
In fact, I just finished my monthly review today, where I looked at how well I did on the goals I set for myself last month and set some new ones for the month ahead. As I was doing this, I started to wonder whether I was doing myself any favors by reviewing my progress monthly.
I had a look into the science of measuring progress towards your personal goals and how it affects your well-being, as well as some examples of ways to track your own progress.
The science of measuring progress towards personal goals
Firstly, I found a couple of studies that found that improvements in well-being, satisfaction and happiness can come from making progress towards your personal goals.
The caveat here is that your goals need to be in line with your inner needs and motives. If you’re committed to a goal for external reasons such as pleasing your boss or your parents, you won’t see the same emotional improvements when you make progress.
I think we can take this as general guidance when it comes to setting goals: even if we don’t set goals specifically to achieve those emotional improvements, we can still try to focus on the goals that we’re motivated to achieve intrinsically, rather than what we think others expect of us. I also found evidence that when a goal is more autonomous — that is, it comes from our own motivations rather than being set for us by someone else — we’re more likely to achieve that goal.
A last point in the research on personal goals that I found interesting was the difference between growth goals (those that look forward to achieving something) and avoidance goals (those that are based on maintaining a current state or avoiding a negative change).
Studies have found that setting growth goals is more common in children and younger adults, and has a positive effect on well-being in these age groups, whereas avoidance goals have been found to have a negative emotional impact. Older adults, however, are more prone to setting maintenance and avoidance goals, and interestingly they don’t suffer emotionally—these type of goals seem well suited to the changes we go through as we age.
Age isn’t the only factor, though. Societal factors can play a big role, as found in a study of personal goals in the US, South Korea and Russia. This study found that in the US, which the researchers labelled an individualistic country, avoidance goals had negative effects on well-being over time, whereas this wasn’t the case in South Korea and Russia, both of which were labelled as being collectivistic countries.
Of course, each of these studies asked participants to measure and report progress made towards their goals. Measuring your progress is important if you want to get those positive emotional effects.
4 ways to measure your own progress
You can set a variety of personal goals, and each kind will require different methods of measuring progress. I’ve focused on examples for tracking daily, weekly and monthly progress, but of course you could zoom right out and do an annual review if you have more long-term goals to work towards.
Belle Beth Cooper identifies a number of tools that can be used. Belle is the first Content Crafter at Buffer and co-founder of Exist. You can read the rest of her article at https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-measure-progress-in-your-personal-goals-daily-weekly-and-monthly
How I used measurement tools to become a national champion age-group athlete.
A few years ago I was involved in a competitive run-swim-run event and had a goal to become the National Age Group champion and go to World Champs in Monaco. This meant I had to balance work, family and a very rigorous training schedule, which involved up to 15 hours a week in running, swimming and strength work. My training had to be very focused, and I always had to get the most out of every session, training at the right intensity, speed and duration.
Technology has moved on a bit now but key to my training was measuring my heart rate and all aspects of my training. I was also very aware of not over-training, as this is a common mistake of age group athletes. Not only did I need to measure my body during training, but throughout the week I checked my weight, resting heart rate and overall feeling of well-being. I needed a monitor that could meet all these needs, and that I could use whilst swimming. To cut a long story short, I won the National Championships, made the National team, and went to World Champs. I ended up finishing 7th and winning the world series event where I competed in three countries.
Best tools to measure performance
This is a bit tricky as it really does depend on your specific needs. I've had a bit of a break since then but have started my journey to the World Champs in 2019 (and I may sneak in an Iron Man between now and then). As a key part of my planning, I have started looking at heart rate monitors. I don't yet know which one I'll end up purchasing, but I do know that there are superb products out there. I'll limit my choice to a few suppliers as I know that they won't let me down.
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