It all used to be so simple, didn’t it? In elementary school you knew you were making progress because report cards got sent home on a quarterly basis, detailing what you had done with the 3 Rs. And maybe that running with scissors problem…
Then, in college, your progress was measured out in items on a syllabus and credits earned towards your degree…
So now what? I’m of the belief that wanting to make progress is a human urge, like food, sex, shelter and the urge to re-write someone else’s play.
So how do you measure it now?
Some people use money. They want to have a certain amount, or earn a certain amount. I don’t think they’re completely cracked, either. While money isn’t everything, it certainly is something, and if the Great Recession has taught us anything, it should teach us that it’s important to be prudent about money.
While I don’t subscribe to the “Whoever dies with the most toys, wins” school of thought, I do think setting reasonable goals about the amount of money you’d like to have can help define what progress is to you.
Just don’t make money all you’re looking for, say I.
I think people can pursue growth in many ways. You can look to expand and deepen your knowledge, master new skills and broaden your horizons. That kind of progress could keep you excited about life for years.
You can also measure your progress in terms of service to communities near and far. There’s service to your local neighborhood food bank, or community soccer team. There’s service to your field, the greater good of humanity and the planet. I think if more of us started measuring progress in this way, not only would the world be a better place, there would be a lot more fulfilled people living in it, as well.
After all, pursuing solely financial goals, or hunting power or prestige, while difficult to accomplish, might leave you feeling a little wanting after you got what you wanted.
That’s not a nice feeling.
So let’s not forget love when we’re talking about measuring progress. I’m not taking about how many love affairs you have, or finding the right one and living happily ever after.
It’s the very broad-based capacity to love others that really enriches our lives, and this includes more than our significant others, children and even friends and family. I think being able to get involved with and care about all kinds of people – and be the kind of person/spouse/friend/relative/neighbor you’d like to be – is a great sign of progress and beats a corner office any day.
What do you think?
by Danielle Dresden