From a very young age I was attracted to numbers. If I had to guess, I’d say it was the empirical certainty that was so badly missing inside of me. In fact, I’ll never forget when I wrote my first piece of code where a computer did exactly what I told it to do. It was love at first sight! Later in corporate America, I was amazed at how choosing the right set of metrics made the difference between astounding success and total failure.
Even though I shifted from viewing myself as a human-doer to a human-being, I still see the benefit in having some type of metric to help the logical side of me better appreciate the seemingly intangible progress I’ve been making. But how do you measure progress towards becoming a more authentic version of oneself without getting attached to outcomes that might derail that very progress?
Well, as it turns out, I stumbled onto at least a partial answer even before this question came up in my mind. See, both of my parents passed away during Christmas. I don’t know whether it was my dad’s 25th anniversary and 10th anniversary for my mom or just plain frustration with where I was in life in 2015, but that Christmas I decided to write a letter to them … just to get things out of my system if anything. This year I did the same and comparing the two letters was a very educational experience!
Much can be written here, but I figure it would be worth to share at least a couple of highlights.
My 2015 letter read more like “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” in that it was focusing on how my expectations were not met in spite of a genuine effort on my part. Interestingly enough though, I did write back then that my gut tells me things will turn up as long as I stay away from self numbing habits.
My 2016 letter, on the other hand, focuses on all the things that I started enjoying once I moved away from my expectation tunnel vision. Don’t get me wrong, the expectations still surface. They always will, but they are more of a background noise rather than the main event.
Prime example of that is the relationship with my grandmother. We used to argue a lot and talk past each other. In my old mind, I used to think that if I accomplished x, y and z then I surely would make her understand that arguing with me is pointless without as much as saying a word … great logic I know;)
This Christmas, I am probably farther away than ever from accomplishing x, y and z, but I had an amazing time with her regardless. I found myself scratching my head countless times … just exactly why did we argue before? What’s more, the very same things that would trigger me before, now I appreciated as part of my Grandmother’s loving personality.
So to wrap this up, my main learning here is that one way to measure progress of becoming a more authentic version of oneself comes from understanding how we view things. Writing about where you are in life on a periodic basis gives you an insight into your current mindset. By comparing those mindsets on a periodic basis you get to see just how much your perceptions of the world have changed … and from that place better appreciate the progress that might otherwise be taken for granted.
After all … isn’t your perception of the world your reality?
So how do you measure your personal growth progress? How can you appreciate the fact that you are likely doing much better than you think?