When progress is not measurable

File:Deep Thinking by Wissam Shekhani, ink on paper.JPGMost people think of “progress” as something measurable. Something that is quantifiable using a percentage complete. Something that is visualized with a progress bar or a pie chart.  For most of life, this is true.

When you’re making your way from elementary to high school, its easy to see your progress after each grade is completed. When you’re making your way through college, it’s easy to see your progress after each semester is completed.  When you’re working on a project at work, it’s easy to see your progress after each task is completed.

These are all examples where there is a clearly defined list of activities to complete, where there is a blueprint. But this isn’t your reality anymore because now you’re doing something that’s as clear as mud and has no blueprint.

Now you have no idea how much must be done to complete your goal. Now you don’t have anyone to guide you step by step. Now you don’t have a trail to follow. So how do you measure progress now?

In this situation, progress is not measured by crossing items off a list. As a matter of fact, progress is not measured at all.

Instead, progress is an expression of discovery.

Discovering what works and what doesn’t. Discovering systems and processes that deliver repeatable results. Discovering the time of day where you’re most productive. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses. Discovering, discovering, discovering…

Every time you discover something, you make a little more progress.

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