By: Mike Cribbin
Many of us find increasing our knowledge easy. Exposing ourselves to new ideas and techniques can be exhilarating. But actually seeing the results of our education can feel a little more challenging. Often we get stuck at the learning phase.
So how can you ensure that you’re making progress toward your goals? First, let’s talk about ways you might measure accomplishment.
How Do You Measure Your Progress?
Do you feel like you’re making progress if you’ve learned or practiced a lot? Maybe you’ve studied investing and have some great ideas about where to start. If learning and practicing were your ultimate goals, then yes, you’ve made progress.
But maybe you measure your achievements based on tangible results, instead. Learning a lot about money may feel great, but this kind of accomplishment probably won’t earn or save anything for you; nor will it suddenly make your net worth go up. For that, you have to apply the knowledge you’ve acquired.
When you’ve spent a lot of time and energy on learning, convincing yourself that you’re moving forward isn’t difficult. But effort is not always synonymous with results. Be sure you’re measuring what you want to measure. Do you want effort or do you want results?
If you love to learn but are timid about putting your knowledge into action, you might have a tendency to measure your progress based on your knowledge and understanding. If so, ask yourself if your life has changed measurably over the last three years. Have you made strides toward your goals? How would an impartial observer grade your progress?
Changing to more results-oriented measurement criteria may seem a bit harsh at first. However, if you’re trying to achieve visible progress, a results-oriented approach will help you down the path.
A Results-Oriented Approach
The first step, then, is to decide how you’re going to measure your achievements. Set a practical, results-based goal. Then go about your learning as usual, but focus the bulk of your efforts towards the attainment of your ultimate goal.
Measure the amount of time you’re learning vs. the amount of time you’re applying that knowledge. A good rule to follow is to spend no more than 10% of your available time on learning. At least 90% of your time should be spent on applying your knowledge.
For example, you can spend an entire day learning, and then apply your new knowledge for the next nine days. Or devote 45 minutes to learning every evening, but spend the whole day using what you know. Remember to stick to learning only what applies to your goal. Don’t allow yourself to be steered off-track.
Letting go of the idea that learning is synonymous with progress may seem challenging. After all, most of us spent our young years in school, and our results were based on learning. Finding out if you really know as much as you think you do can feel scary, too.
Just remember, though, that you usually get the most out of the things on which you place your focus. If you pay the most attention to your learning, you’ll get just that: more learning. Instead, focus on the results you’re getting, and get the results you want!