This is the best method for making consistent progress in your business

You can’t make progress in your business if you’re not measuring it! Here’s why this concept is so important for entrepreneurs.

One of the most common mistakes business owners make is failing to measure their progress or choosing to measure their progress against ideals and vague generalisations. Almost everyone does it, but it’s particularly harmful for business owners because it prevents them from truly understanding and recognising their own success and achievements—both in life and business.

In many cases, they are making significant progress towards their goals, but it doesn’t feel like they are because they have no real way of measuring it. To truly get the feeling of progress, measurements need to be based on concrete facts. Vague and general goals like “success” or “wealth” or being more like someone you admire can’t lead you to the feeling of progress.

This is the basis behind one of our core concepts, The Gap And The Gain. This concept simply states that there are two ways of measuring progress in both business and life. Depending on which method you choose, you’ll either be in “The Gap,” where you’re never satisfied with your progress, or “The Gain,” where you feel satisfied, fulfilled, and happy with your progress.

Are you in The Gap or The Gain?

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are in The Gap, whether they realize it or not.

Even though they’re clearly successful, they are unhappy and feel as if they haven’t accomplished their goals. They’re not able to see the success they’ve achieved, even if everyone else can. And it’s because they are measuring themselves in terms of generalities like “wealthy” or against the number-one person in their industry.

They’re in The Gap

By simply focusing on specific and measurable progress, these same people can quickly change their mindset and become aware of the real success they’ve achieved. When they do this, they gain a sense of feeling grounded, centred, and that there are fewer moving parts in their life that overwhelm them. Most importantly, they feel as if they’re truly successful. (Which they are!)

They’re now in The Gain!

Has their rate of progress changed? Not necessarily. The main difference is the way they’re measuring. Only by making specific measurements will you know that progress has been made. Simply put, there’s no progress without measurement.

How to measure (the right way)

I’ve found that there are two primary ways to measure your success: One will put you in The Gap, while the other will put you in The Gain.

The first is measuring forward. This is when you have a picture of your ideal self in the future, and you strive to achieve it. You’re always trying to progress forward, with the end goal of reaching that ideal state.

But there’s a problem with this way of thinking. When you measure forward, you’ll always be disappointed when you check your progress. Even if you’ve made significant progress towards your goal, you’ll never feel truly successful because you and your business are not the ideal versions you’ve always pictured.

Even if you’ve hit your goal and achieved real success in your life or business, you’ll still feel the same as you did when you started because that ideal will always be unattainable. You become more critical of yourself, you lose confidence, you become disappointed, and you feel as if there’s no way you’ll ever achieve what you desire.

When you think this way, you’ll always be in The Gap. So, what’s the alternative?

The alternative is measuring backwards. With this method, you simply look back at where you started and measure how far you’ve come in your business or life. Even if you haven’t achieved your goal, you’ll still be a lot further ahead than when you started. You’ve still made progress!

When you measure backwards, you increase your confidence, energy, and satisfaction. You recognise the new capabilities you’ve developed and the success you’ve already achieved.

Many have equated this simple mindset shift to “flipping a switch in your brain,” as it turns success into something you’re constantly achieving rather than something that’s always just out of reach.

Why this matters for entrepreneurs

So, why does this matter?

Because moving forward feels good. Time is always moving forward, and the best feeling we can have is to be moving forward along with it.

The feeling that we’re making progress is powerful and positive, but it only comes from knowing you’ve moved forward, and the only way to know that is through specific measurements. You might have made progress towards your goals, but you’re not going to feel good about it unless you measure how far you’ve come. You won’t even know you’ve made progress at all unless you measure your progress properly.

From a material standpoint, life has vastly improved over the past 50 years, but if you don’t measure your own personal progress, any type of measurable improvement in society will be meaningless to you. You can’t appreciate any other progress going on around you if you’re not measuring, and therefore conscious of, your own.

On the flip side, falling behind feels bad. There’s no in-between feeling when it comes to personal progress; if you don’t feel like you’re moving ahead, you feel that things are moving on without you, passing you by.

If you’re not feeling good about what you’re doing, your mind might go to a place where you start comparing yourself to other people you think are doing better. But comparing yourself against others just causes unhappiness. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

The purpose of measurement is to have right thinking around the results you’ve achieved. For this reason, all of my measurements are based on things to do with me personally or with my company, where I’ve had a major influence in bringing about an improvement, or where we can learn something specific from why we didn’t hit certain goals.

In addition, measuring your own personal progress keeps you out of comparison with others.

We all know the phrase, “Mind your own business.” Well, my new motto is, “Measure your own business.” When you make sure all of your measurements are against yourself, you’ll move towards your goal of increased progress, learning, and growth. Good things don’t come from measuring yourself against anyone else.

Take action today

So, how can you transition from The Gap to The Gain? We use a number of different tools and exercises to help our entrepreneurs get out of The Gap—here’s one you can use right now to start shifting your thinking.

Whatever goal you’re striving for in your business or personal life, go back and identify three experiences you’ve had where you’ve already achieved something similar. Identify the areas where you’ve already made progress.

This will help you begin to appreciate your past experiences and all the progress you’ve made up to this point. You’re only capable of what you’re doing now because of your past experiences—and that will turn into further progress in the future, just as it has in the past.

It’s simple: Start with the past, and you’ll be happy.

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan is the founder and president of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Programme, which helps accomplished business owners reach new heights of success and happiness. A visionary, an innovator, and a gifted conceptual thinker, Dan has over 40 years of experience as a strategic planner and coach to entrepreneurial individuals and groups. He is author of over 50 publications including The Laws of Lifetime Growth with Catherine Nomura and Who Not How with Dr. Benjamin Hardy.

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