You can and should measure personal growth.
Social media results in the inevitable comparison to others. We want to look like them, live their perfect lives and buy the clothes they model. Constantly comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disappointment.
Instead, we should focus on ourselves.
We should work on challenging ourselves so we can focus on our improvement.
So what do you do when you want to measure your growth? How do you know if you are improving?
It depends on what you are measuring.
It’s difficult to measure everything. When you go through performance reviews at work, you’re asked to create measurable goals — increase revenue by 20 million for my portfolio perhaps. This results in being able to track performance towards your goal in order to measure success. If you only increase revenue by 2 million that year, you haven’t achieved your goal.
Years ago, I started creating measurable goals for my New Years resolutions. Doing so drastically transformed the goals I created. The first year I was too detailed which made tracking progress stressful. The second year I created limited measurable goals for the year. This enabled me to track my success. For example, instead of saying visit grandma in the nursing home more often. I created a measurable goal to visit her at least once a month.
I strongly believe in challenging yourself in order to grow. Two years ago, I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is so outside of my comfort zone I’m shocked I still go. When I first started, I didn’t know a damn thing. I was awkward. Two years later, I have made drastic improvement. I’m able to get submissions on my training partners and I have developed my own game.
How did I measure improvement?
I compared my current self to myself the first day of Jiu Jitsu. I know a shitload more now than I did then. Not only do I know more Jiu Jitsu, I also know more about myself.
If I compare myself today against any other blue belt, I wouldn’t feel the same way. I’m not any other blue belt. I struggle with Jiu Jitsu. I struggle retaining the techniques we are taught. I am weaker than most people at my school. But I can’t and shouldn’t compare myself to others. My sole basis for comparison has to be myself. If I compare myself today to myself 2 years ago, I’ve come a long way. That’s my key performance indicator. I’ve improved.
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.— Ernest Hemingway
You can’t measure improvement without KPIs.
When you change a process, the only way to know if it is successful is to track Key Performance Indicators. These are metrics you’ve predetermined that are capable of letting you know if you’re successful.
For example, when I took on the support team at my last company, I changed the process in which issues were investigated. The KPI to determine if the process change was successful was tracking the time it took to respond to the issue. If the time was greater than today, the process was unsuccessful, and if it was less, we were successful.
Growth isn’t possible without time.
In order to determine if you’ve improved, you need to allocate time to study a new skill. If I compared my first day of Jiu Jitsu to my third, I wouldn’t have seen much improvement. It’s important to determine a time period in which you can evaluate your improvement.
With the support team I mentioned earlier, I gave the new process 90 days to determine success. Without a time period, a key performance indicator is useless. You must have a time period and metric defined in order to measure improvement.
Throughout this story I have used growth and improvement interchangeably. If you’re growing, you’re improving.
You may wonder how you can measure growth without learning or doing something new. The answer — you can’t.
You must challenge yourself to grow and you must focus on learning to improve.
Once you determine what it is you want to improve or how you want to grow, set aside a period of time in which to evaluate your growth. You’ll be surprised in what you can do once you have a plan to achieve it and key performance indicators to measure your success.