How do I know I am making progress?

This weekend my sister-in-law and her friends graduated from business school.  Watching her earn her MBA over the past two years, I saw her develop in many facets of life.  She learned to ask for what she wants.  She prioritized new relationships with old ones.  She took risks on classes and jobs that scared her.  I am very proud of both her personal and professional growth.

While I can easily see her growth over the past two years, she grew in areas that are hard to track.  How should we measure growth in learning to ask for what we want?  Or, even more difficult, how we prioritize our friends, family and ambitions? 

Conducting interviews at Google over the past two years (and asking a lot of GCA questions, thank you Lazlo) taught me that you can always find a way to track progress, even in the “warm, fuzzy” areas.  Often, simply focusing on tracking, though you cannot record precisely, helps.  And, furthermore, showing yourself progress keeps you motivated (The Power of Small WinsTeresa Amabile, Steven J. Kramer, 2011).  Any thoughtful solutions works, but below you can find a few of my favorites:

  • Write down quick snippets each week.  This is my favorite solution since it takes 30 minutes each week and promotes team transparency as well.
  • Use OKRs.
  • Commit to “one simple thing” as a resolution.
  • Develop a PDP.


Gretchen Rubin suggests we copy Benjamin Franklin’s ethos on tracking progress.  He said, when reflecting on the chart he used to track his progress, “though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted” (Benjamin Franklin. Autobiography. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.).

As you aim to grow in “warm, fuzzy” areas that seem hard to track (one of mine now is Headspace), I challenge you to try to find a way to measure your progress.  I believe it will cause you to try harder and, maybe, achieve more.


How do I know I am making progress?

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