As we’ve covered time and again here at WeAchieve, any big accomplishment that you are shooting for will take time and perseverance. That’s par for the course, and we’re not really here to tell you that. Rather, we’re here to tell you how to make that process a bit easier on yourself. Today’s point on this front is the value of visualizing long-term progress.
Think about a time when you had an ambitious project or goal in mind that you ended up giving up on. It happens to everyone. While part of this project turnover is natural, almost everyone gives up on their goals too soon. What happened with your goal? Did it become tiresome? Did you lose focus? Lose motivation?
Long journeys take time and patience. They are much more of a hike than a sprint.
For most people it’s some combination of those three. But visualizing your progress is a partial antidote to these common maladies. Here are some of the key steps when deciding how to make sure you see your progress:
As we’ve mentioned before, all the research suggests that setting a quantifiable target is crucial. Just saying “I want to get organized,” or “I want to save more money” has a low likelihood of success. So you need to put a value to it in some way. But we suggest keeping it simple. For those examples, maybe just track whether or not you spent at least 15 minutes cleaning up, or whether you ate out for lunch as starters. You can always get more advanced: track total minutes cleaning or your daily food spend, but we’ll leave it to you to figure out what the right level of detail is for you.
Hey, we like specific goals as much as anyone, but it has its place. Setting a quantifiable goal right away (e.g. I want to workout 5 times a week) runs a risk of quickly being too optimistic and feeling unrealistic. You can make more progress by making incremental changes. In this case: take the first couple weeks and see how many times you workout. Once you have a baseline, set a goal to increase it slightly – keeping the goal in a range that you feel is achievable.
One big challenge with any goal is that the path there may seem insurmountable. Such is the case with, say, running a marathon. 26.2 miles seems incredibly far when you are comparing your current 3-mile run to 26.2 miles. But this is easily solvable: don’t compare to tomorrow, compare to yesterday. When you complete a 4 mile run, compare it to the 3 mile run. This may seem like a cheap trick, but our brains need positive reinforcement to keep ourselves going.
Pretty much all of us have a vice that we’d like to get rid of. You may drink too much, smoke too much, spend too much, get angry too often, eat too much ice cream, or spend too much time on apps that don’t enrich your life. Tracking can be incredibly powerful to reduce any of these. We’ll speak about this more in our next post, but for now take our word for it: the best way to get started on any of these is to just start tracking them AND not judge yourself for what you see. You may start to cringe when you see the numbers, but instead of critiquing yourself, just view it as a great opportunity to make a big improvement.
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started on tracking a couple of the big things going on in your life. While it may feel a bit nerdy, being able to see your progress is a surefire way to improve yourself along pretty much any dimension. Embrace the nerdiness of it and dive in!