Why I changed the way I think about progress

2 min read


June 05, 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 writing 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

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions or want to chat about anything, please DM me on Twitter. If you want to get notified about future articles, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter below.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Get updates about new posts, new projects, or other meaningful updates to this site delivered to your inbox. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter.