Monday, October 21, 2013

How Do You Know If You Are Progressing?

Everyone wants to do better in life, but just how do you know how you are doing compared to this time last year? When we set goals, we need to track our progress as we make our way to the finish line to ensure that we are indeed moving ahead. Putting your goals down on paper, creating a plan to achieve them, and measuring your success are the only way to truly know where you stand.

We are now in late October, so it is time to start looking at the new year and deciding what you really want to get out of life and business over the next  year. This is something that many people do during the New Year, but very few of them are actually serious about the goals they set. However, for you, this year will be different!

When you put something down on paper, it tends to make it more official in your mind. For instance, if your goal last year was to quit smoking, did you actually make a contract with yourself? Did you monitor your progress in how you were eliminating cigarettes each day, week, or month? If not, you probably were not able to stick to your goal and eventually fell back to smoking.

You may still be shaking your head and thinking all of this just sounds too silly. Well, think about it. Doesn't it make it more of a commitment or more serious if it is written down? Think about how you respond to your job evaluation each year. What is generally at the end of the document? Probably an improvement plan that is tracked over the next few months, right?

Take the same example of quitting smoking and this time make it official. Write out a contract with yourself and include goals. For instance, after one month you will be down to less than three cigarettes a day. After three months, you will be down to one cigarette or less a day. After six months, you will no longer smoke at all and only use the substitute gum or ecigarettes. After nine months, you will no longer use anything.

Having a plan in place allows you to track the progress and monitor your success. Never underestimate the positive feeling generated by knowing you are moving closer and closer to your goal. Without tracking your progress like this, you are just left to wonder how far you have come and how much longer you have left. Seeing the goals achieved, even the smaller ones you are targeting at first, give you reason to celebrate and to continue to move forward with your plan.

Now, if you have had failed business experiences in the past, ask yourself if you attempted it the same way you did your plan to stop smoking. Did you just jump in headfirst or did you take the time to develop a business plan and track your progress during those critical first few years? Having a plan and tracking system like this in place will be critical, because it will allow you to see what you are doing right and what needs to be adjusted.

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