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Measuring progress

What happens when your old metrics stop working for you? What happens when the metric you used for all this years to measure your life’s progress shows no progress or worse still, decline?

How are you measuring your life?

Lets take material possessions as an example. Using cars, boats, houses, fill in the blank, as a metric. If for 20 years of your life you measured your success by these new toys. At some point you will reach a point of maturity, where enough is enough. Depending on what percentage of your identity is defined by material items, you can suddenly find yourself adrift, unable to gauge life’s progress. Sure I can hear people saying, not a bad place to find yourself.

Things don’t stop at a materialistic level. Take your physical well being. Assume you take a run every day for 20 years. You log your progress, speed, distance and time. At some point you are going to get slower and have less endurance. You can defer the effects , but ultimately time wins in the end. So what happens to your motivation at that point? Do you stop running? What makes you continue running and if you do, what metrics do you use to measure positive progress in the absence of the metrics you trusted all those years?

The same can be said for family life. Assuming you follow a typical path, you meet a partner and have a couple of children. Rightly or wrongly many people begin to measure progress in this area too. Academia, sport, health all become potential benchmarking traps. Whether that be within a family unit or within a wider social circle. Then after 20 or so years they move on to their own journey. The purpose of your family life has changes, and “progress” can feel as though its come to an end. Its no coincidence that divorce can ofter rear its head at this point as couple scrabble to create some new sense of self, after the children move on.

In business the same factors come into play. I’ve already written in the past about the addiction of new ideas. In the early days, months and years its all about growth. Metrics are easily defined. But once a business reaches maturity, the focus can often shift to sustainability or longevity. Something which doesn’t generate the most exciting of business metrics.

All of this sounds incredible melancholy. We’re born, live and die. The End.

I’ve found comfort in recognising the state of mind that can come from feeling detached from purpose. I’m able to recognise when people, myself included, sabotage the status quo, in an attempt to recreate a sense of purpose from the past.

I’ve avoided as many of the cliches as possible to this point. Enjoy the journey not the destination. The power of now. Smell the roses…. etc etc. All of which are I’m sure words that bring comfort to some people. Unfortunately when you’ve spent a large portion of your life, as I have, in pursuit of a series of goals that are always just outside your grasp (again with the cliches), its hard to turn that voice off in your head.

I’m writing this, rather perversely, as someone who still hasn’t found a definitive solution.

As of right now, the secret to greater happiness at least for me, seems to be developing greater awareness to how, at least my mind works when it comes to looking to the future. I’m starting to enjoy discovering new ways to measure life’s progress and development in later life.

I’d really like to hear people’s comments on this topic as I know it’s something that impacts a very wide cross section of society.

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