If you don’t track your progress, you may convince yourself that you are doing worse, or even better, than you really are. In this article, captain Jako Hall offers sound reasons why it is essential to monitor and document your progress toward accomplishing your goals, not just a single benchmark.
Perhaps the biggest problem with setting goals and then tracking only a single perceived result, not the progress along the way, is that we get into a binary mindset. Binary means on or off, yes or no, pass or fail. It’s one or the other that you have made it or didn’t. With a binary mindset, we can measure too little or too much success, and this inaccuracy can cause us to give up on our plan.
As an example of measuring too little success, imagine that you’ve set a goal to finish a marathon in under four hours. You train hard and improve your personal best for the 26.2 miles from five hours and 17 minutes to four hours and 10 minutes. That’s a huge improvement. If you are too hyper-focused on achieving the goal of a sub-four marathon, you come away from the event feeling like a failure, when in fact, what you’ve accomplished is quite remarkable.
Measure your improvements and keep striving to reach the goal, but allow yourself to feel satisfaction commensurate with your accomplishments, not only in relation to a single event. That benchmark may have been unrealistic.
Now let’s look at measuring too much success. Let’s say your health goal is to eat better and attain a certain weight. You are determined to eat only healthy food and follow through with your plan for several months. You reach your goal weight and feel like you have achieved success.
Then the holidays come around. The lure of the rich holiday fool associated with family gatherings is too much, and you slide back into your old habits, and some of the excess weight returns. If you are only focused on a binary goal, you’ve just moved from the success to the fail column, and the discouragement crushes your incentive to keep trying into the new year. Give yourself the freedom to fail and try again.
Many goals should be more about becoming than crossing a binary finish line. In our first example, the runner really wanted to become a faster runner, and they accomplished that goal. If seen in its proper perspective, the goal of running a sub-four marathon was only a benchmark, not the final destination. The achievement should have earned congratulations, not dejection and feelings of failure.
Likewise, our holiday overeater wanted to become a healthier person with more discipline regarding food. Slipping up during the holidays probably didn’t undo all the progress they made earlier in the year, and even if it did, they still have eleven months in every year to become the healthy person they want to be. We shouldn’t let good be the enemy of great.
In the end, you will be more successful in becoming the person you want to become if you track your progress, not just the achievement of a single benchmark. Relish in your accomplishments, however small, and let your failures motivate you to try harder next time.
About Jako Hall
Captain Jako Hall is an experienced mariner and a former naval officer known for his strong work ethic and ability to lead and motivate crews. He pursued Maritime Studies at the University of Technology in Cape Town and has received the highest level of training in Navigation and Seamanship during his years in the Navy. After 13 distinguished years in the Navy, Jako joined the superyacht industry, following his passion for creating unique and exclusive experiences for high-net-worth clients. He’s managed multi-million euro projects that required attention to detail and efficiency and has a proven track record of operating at sea in remote and unsupported areas.