To Measure Progress, Start Here

There are a million ways to measure progress (and success) in every aspect our lives, whether it’s in our self-improvement, relationships with others, side projects, professional work, health and fitness, finances, or anything else. We quantify progress by tracking the time that passes towards a set deadline, using milestones or benchmarks like how much we have learned and even by promising to keep a certain level of dedication or loyalty to a task.

Technology has enabled us to monitor our progress in real time, too. Email updates? Calorie-counting or distance-measuring apps? Engagement levels? Fundraising totals? Mobile notifications from our bank? There are endless options. In the rush to measure progress, we may overlook the importance of quantifying the zero, or our current starting place. I was reminded of this insight while listening to Beach House’s 10 Mile Stereo (lyrics, below):

The heart is a stone and this is a stone that we throw
Put your hand on this stone, it’s the stone of a home you know

We can’t really know how to best measure progress without knowing how to measure the progress of our past. And, after all, the present is a cumulation of the past. We often forget to consider what our potential is when we begin something.

They say we can throw far but they don’t know how far we throw
With our legs on the edge, and our feet on the horizon

To measure how far you’ll go, take into account how far you’ve come.

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