Throwback ⏰: Keep a running ‘progress & goals document’ so you can more easily look back on your growth

by | Apr 16, 2022

True growth is incredibly slow. It’s a series of marginal improvements over a long enough period of time until you finally become proficient or successful. For example, they say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert (which is debatable, but this is just an example). Each of those hours of practice, marginally increases your ability until you’re eventually an expert. There’s no magic moment where you level up. And, that makes it incredibly difficult to recognize your growth from day to day. Using the same example, your proficiency at 4,500 hours and 4,550 hours (ie, roughly a week or two of practice) appears to be the same. You can’t see the difference. You only notice how far you’ve come when you look wayyy back (eg 1,000 hours vs 7,000 hours).

And, that’s a problem in both our businesses and personal lives. We don’t notice all the hard-fought incremental progress we’re making from day to day because we’re busy living it. We’re in it. So, we tend to only notice our progress over many years or as we reach major milestones in our businesses and lives. And, in turn, that can make us feel stagnant, which is incredibly demoralizing. But, you can combat all this by either setting better/more frequent milestones & celebrations or maintaining a running ‘progress & goals doc’ that you can regularly look back on. (By running document, I mean one constantly updated document as opposed to multiple smaller docs.) And, after a few months, you’ll probably be shocked by how much progress you’ve made, but haven’t recognized.


What to include :

Ignoring legal nuances, your business and personal lives are intertwined. So, you should include both business and personal stats, goals, and projects. That can include anything from how many followers you have on social, subscribers you have to your newsletter, recent average 5k pace, how much time you spent meditating, sales & revenue goals, new leads, number of clients, date nights with your partner, progress in your hobbies, various savings goals, etc. The sky’s the limit. (I’d caution against including your weight. This is supposed to be a motivational document. And, realistically, our weight is always in flux. Be kind to yourself.)


When to update :

How frequently you update your running doc is up to you. I suggest either monthly or quarterly. Weekly will turn updating your running doc into another annoying admin task and you won’t see the growth from week to week. And, because we’re trying to combat the long intervals where we don’t notice our progress, updating it every half-year (or even less frequently) defeats the purpose.


Where to keep it :

I use Google Docs for my running doc because it’s convenient (it’s in the cloud and I can access it from any device) plus I already use Gsuite for my business. But, the documentation inside the doc is more important than the tool you use to track it. Instead of Google Docs, you can also use Word/Pages, Google Sheets/Excel, Notion, or even a notebook.


Better milestones:

In addition to all this, set better milestones. You don’t have to use the default business milestones (eg, first client, first employee, 3 years in business, etc). It’s your business. Set milestones wherever you want. For example, if you’re trying to guest on podcasts. Set milestones at: your first quest appearance, your 3rd/5th/8th/etc guest appearances, your first lead from a guest appearance, your first client from a guest appearance, the first time one podcast host referred you to another host, etc. Make everything a milestone and celebrate your wins.


Action Item:


Start your running progress & goals doc. And, add a recurring calendar notification reminding you to update it.

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