Gaining the influence that you want can be a long journey, but you have to be proud of the progress that you make on the way.
One of the ways in which we can be most tough on ourselves as human beings is not measuring our progress properly. Perhaps when we were at school we had an easy system to know how we were doing- grades and praise- but for many of us it is hard to see a definite moment when we achieve something.
There are a number of reasons why we don’t measure our progress properly:
- We get too caught up in the everyday- We rush from interesting thing to interesting thing without thinking about what we are doing. This can be a particular problem in an online world where people feel constantly ‘switched on’ and available.
- We forget what our dreams were- Getting caught up in the everyday can mean that we forget what we wanted to achieve anyway. We might not realise that some of the things that matter most to us are right under our nose and we can enjoy them whenever we want. I love this story which provides a powerful lesson in this area.
- We might not have systems that give us feedback- this might be especially true if we are freelancers, which more and more of us are. How do we measure progress anyway?
- We compare ourselves against other people too much- It’s always easy to look at the lives of others and compare ourselves negatively. It is very unlikely that people we observe are chasing the exact same dreams as us or that we will take the same path to get there.
- We compare ourselves against the wrong people- Some comparison with others is good- it can make sure that we push ourselves and see what can be achieved. But who should we compare ourselves to? The media is often full of stories of people who are not very much like us- celebrities. Their example is an unrealistic one and their lives too are often governed by many factors outside their control.
- We forget what ‘good’ used to look like- Sometimes we have an average day now and forget what an amazing day that would have seemed to us even quite recently. We forget how far we have come and what would have previously satisfied us.
- New tasks keep flooding towards us, with no gap between tasks- If we don’t take the time to properly evaluate tasks, we will never be able to properly judge our progress. What’s more, we are less likely to learn from both our successes and failures.
- We are too hard on ourselves when assessing what we have done- Human beings have a tendency to get bored very quickly. If we do something enough times, even something that most people would find exciting or amazing, we probably don’t appreciate how magical it is anymore.
This means that if we want to truly understand how our influence is growing, we might have to do things like check in with other people or try to take the time to remember what it was we wanted in the past.
Sometimes we need to think about where we are right now and the things that we should be proud of.
I am not saying, of course, that we should stop moving forward and continuing to broaden our horizons. Absolutely not.
I’m just saying that we should try to give ourselves praise where praise is due. If we can look back and see that we have already climbed a few mountains of ambition and influence, the even higher mountains we want to reach will seem that bit less scary or insurmountable.