Why I changed the way I think about progress

2 min read


June 5th 2021

The system I used to track my progress and why it's flawed

It always starts with a goal and a specific time period.

Maybe it's going on a diet for 90 days, writing a blog post every week, or reading 20 pages every day.

So to track my progress, I use a calendar. If I complete the desired task on a given day, I will mark that day as complete. Otherwise, I leave it blank.

Writing that big X at the end of the day feels fantastic, like receiving a hard-earned medal. On the other hand, when I miss a day, I feel like crap. But I would just shrug it off and try the next day again. I consider it part of the process.

The biggest flaw when thinking about progress this way is that it's either a hit or a miss.

Say I read 15 pages instead of 20 on a given day, does this count as a success or a fail? If I count it as a fail, then this discards all the work I put in, and if it's the other way around, I would feel like I'm cheating.

This system made me develop an "all-or-nothing" mentality when it comes to growth. Either I'm doing a perfect job, or I'm not.

When in reality, every step towards a goal counts. It doesn't have to be a perfect step. It just has to be in the right direction.

A better system

A better system should help me track how close I am to achieving a target I set, so instead of 0% or 100%, I should be able to pick any value between these two numbers.

I'm thinking like GitHub's contribution graph, where the more you contribute, the darker the color:

GitHub contribution Graph

I don't know if such a to-do app/habit tracker exists or not (if it does, let me know), so I'm building one as a fun side-project.

I'm currently learning AWS CDK, so that's what I'll use to build it along with Next.js, TypeScript, TailwindCSS, and framer-motion.

Final thoughts

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