Make Progress

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In a recent conversation with a friend, I was inspired to hear him talk about how he enjoys taking time to make goals and to steadily make progress. The conversation got me thinking about why it is that, sometimes, less talented people make much more progress in life than people who seem to be naturally talented.

Is it because some people have a better set of circumstances than others? Or maybe it’s because some people are just more driven to succeed? Or maybe it’s a combination of different things.

Either way…I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know, however, is that it is possible to make progress on your goals; regardless of our starting point. I’m talking about small progress; the kind of progress that’s achieved daily and eventually leads to big progress over time. No matter where you are in life, it’s possible to make forward progress.

Take the time to plan your work

Fairly straight forward, right? In order to make progress, we first need to figure out what we are trying to make progress towards. We can break this down into a few different ideas:

  1. Identify S.M.A.R.T goals – it’s cliche, but very useful. Identify goals for yourself that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
  2. Layout your plan of action – once you’ve figured out what it is you want to work towards, it’s time to figure out how you plan to get there. Be sure to map out a realistic plan that will get you from point A to point B.

Take the time to work your plan

Once you’ve got your plan figured out, it’s time to put in some serious work. This is where most people fall off the bandwagon. It’s easy to say that we want something, it’s much harder to actually do it.

  1. Focus – let’s face it, we get distracted easily. If we want to make progress we are going to have to find ways to make ourselves focus. One of the best ways to force yourself to focus is to build in functions that help keep you on track. For example, one way that I’ve been able to do this is by continually contributing to The Beckon as I go through a MBA program. The alignment encourages me to focus in on both school and work, giving me the chance to apply what I learn as I learn it. Of course, that’s not going to be relevant to everyone. However, I think you understand what I’m trying to say; find ways to leverage your time and make yourself focus in on achieving your goals.
  2. Measure – at the end of the day, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Once you start gaining momentum, it’s important that you continually measure your progress against your S.M.A.R.T goals. How are you doing? Are you where you thought you would be?
  3. Readjust unless you’re a lucky genius, it’s not likely that you’re right on track; you’ve either made to much progress or not enough. Either way, it’s important that you adjust your plan and determine the best way to move forward.

You CAN make progress

So see, we can make progress and we don’t have to spin our wheels to do it.

Making progress is just a matter of setting goals and having the drive to achieve them. If you want to accomplish something, figure out how to make it happen and go do it.

Make progress today.

  • Kristi Holland

    My dad always told my basketball team “as long as you get a little better everyday – that’s all that matters”…and I guess that same logic could be applied here.


      Your dad sounds like a pretty decent guy :-)

  • Austin Ball

    Great, actionable steps for turning plans into reality. I hadn’t heard the SMART acronym before, but I’ll be using that from now on. Have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”? He has some interesting things to say about the questions you raised in your first paragraph, you might find it entertaining.


      Hey Austin – I think I may be the only person on the planet who hasn’t actually read Malcolm’s Outliers book. He certainly has a great way of presenting concepts though. I may just have to add Outliers to my collection here soon.