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How to Measure Success

By: jwilder

How do you measure success?

How do you know if the effort you put in will lead you in the right direction?

Is there a gauge that can measure your current effort?

What we want is something that tells us we're heading in the right direction with sufficient momentum. The alternative is stalled and going in the wrong direction.

Beware of false progress.

Not all action is created equal.

False progress:

  • Learn, learn, learn, but never create.
  • Plan, plan, plan, but never do.
  • Action, action, action, wrong direction!

What if we measure accomplishments?

Simply measuring your accomplishments is measuring too late.

If we have no accomplishments after a year, this measurement has zero value. It didn't help you at all. It just says nope, you wasted a year.

What should we measure?

Direction, Effort, and Output

What if you did everything possible each day in order to practically guarantee positive results at some point in the future?

If we get direction, effort, and output right, then positive results are simply a matter of time.

1. Direction

First of all, what is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? What is your target? Are you going in the right direction? Are you creating the most important thing?

Make sure you are working on the right thing, the one thing, that will get you closer to your goal.

2. Effort

Secondly, are you putting in effort on a daily basis? We must allocate time daily to move forward. Come up with a minimum requirement of hours spent daily on high value activities.

The effort we spend in creating should be our highest priority. What we are creating is value. In the act of creating we improve our skills.

For example, I write every day, first thing in the morning, two to four hours. This is not an option.

3. Output

Lastly, our effort should result in finished products (output). It could be a photo shoot, article, chapter, painting, sculpture, etc. We can't spend days thinking and planning and researching. I used to get caught in this cycle.

In Pablo Picasso's 78-year career, he produced about 147,800 pieces, consisting of: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, 300 sculptures and ceramics and 34,000 illustrations.

Whatever your art is, writing, photography, building custom cars, cooking, cleaning, etc, do something every day, and create finished works of whatever your art is.

Check Your Rearview

A quick way to validate your future success is to examine your past actions. Look at the last seven days and determine how much time you spent doing activities that will move you toward your goal.

For example, if you want to learn photography, you must learn about photography and practice by taking photos. Come up with a plan and allocate time, and commit to weekly activity.

Photography Plan

  • Spend 2 hrs/week reading about photography.
  • Spend 3 hrs/week taking photos.
  • Select 1 photo/week that demonstrates a specific photographic technique.

Your past seven days is an indicator of your future success.

If you devoted sufficient time, according to your own criteria, then you are on your way to becoming a skilled photographer. You will have created and accumulated real value.

At the end of the year, you will have:

  • 104 hrs reading about photography.
  • 156 hrs taking photos.
  • 52 photos that demonstrate a specific photographic technique.

Wow! Not bad for a few hours a week.


Direction, Effort, and Output are the keys to measuring success.

If we are going in the right direction and do everything possible each day we practically guarantee success in the future.

Join me on the success journey! Subscribe to my weekly Keys to Personal Success email and gain momentum in the right direction! Sign up here: James On Success.

James Wilder

I write about success principles and practices that help dreamers take action and achieve their goals! I believe that success is for anyone that truly desires it.


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