Progress, every day

Progress, every day

I used to believe that being successful meant being rich and famous. But that is a very abstract, enormous and singular goal that is somewhere in the unknown future. I now believe that success can be achieved on a daily basis. The trick is learning how to dissect one large task into many smaller tasks. I use a tool that makes this process easy and approachable. Instead of pursuing an enormous goal like “become rich and famous”, this tool uses small, achievable, daily goals that can easily be met. Over time, each accomplished goal adds up and moves you closer to your abstract, enormous and singular goal.

Giving Up When the Road Gets Tough

Growing up, I wanted to be successful. From what I could tell, success was achieved only when you became rich and famous. So, at 19 years old, I drove from Detroit to Los Angeles in pursuit of my success. I wanted to become an actress. Over the next few years, I was cast in a few minor roles and had the time of my life. However, I did not come close to the level of fame or wealth I had wanted. The road to success seemed far off and impossible, so I gave up.

Learning New Techniques and Redefining Success

Attempting to achieve something that is as singular as “become rich and famous” is discouraging, self-defeating and prone to failure. In the 20 years since my cross-country drive, I have become interested in other goals. In order to approach my new goals with a clean slate and avoid ending up burnt out and disappointed again, I had to learn new techniques. I also had to re-define my definition of success.

I read studies from people who had knowledge on this topic. I also did a lot of self-discovery through journaling. My mature, revised definition of success resulted in this:

” Success is personal and achievable and it makes me feel useful, worthy and alive. “

My New Definition of Success

Useful, worthy and alive! Who wouldn’t want to feel that every day? In order to feel that way every day and move myself towards my goal, I created a Daily Achievement Log. My Daily Achievement Log is a very short list of things I need to do, every single day, in order to feel successful. There are a few guidelines and rules about this Log that are important to make it work. It is not a to-do list. It does not change every day. It’s a simple tool that maps out small, achievable, daily steps that I can easily complete and that make me feel successful.

How The Process Works

The way this log works is simple. In a spreadsheet, I create a table like the one below. Each new day gets a new table and is dated. I save the previous dates inside the same spreadsheet. The first column in the spreadsheet is a list of the general tasks I want to complete every day. These tasks are carried over from day to day, they are not re-created every day because this is not a to-do list.

December 17
Write for blog – 10 minutes
Write for fiction book – 10 minutes
Cardio exercise – 20 minutes
Stretch or yoga – 10 minutes
Call or text a friend
Study photography – 10 minutes

The second column starts blank at the beginning of every day. If I complete the task by the end of the day, the second column gets a check mark next to the task. If I don’t complete the task, the task does not get a check mark. If a task has an amount, I will add a partial amount if I was able to complete some of it.

The success of this list is that not every single task needs to be checked off. The list is meant to be an achievable guide for daily success, therefore, I only add tasks that are achievable.

For example, I have a few simple exercises I would like to do every single day. I could manage to do 100 push ups in a single day, however, that’s a lot! A more manageable and realistic goal for me would be 50 push ups every day. Now, that I can do! The objective is to create tasks that are personal and achievable and that make you feel useful, worthy and alive.

Here is another example. I want to write a book. In this log the only thing I write down is “write for 10 minutes”. This is the only thing I need to do in a single day that makes me feel successful for that day. For me, I have learned, taht even 10 mintues a day make a huge difference. Once I get started, I usually end up spending a lot longer than 10 minutes sometimes. It’s a lot easier to approach a task when I only need to commit 10 minutes. However, if I only manage to put in 10 minutes, I consider that a success and the task gets marked as completed for that day.

Another vital note, is that not each task needs to be checked off. It must be noted that even checking off one task is success!

Throughout each day, this simple log gives me direction. It provides me with small, achievable goals that make me feel useful, worthy and alive. As the years go by, I realize how deeply important each day is. I don’t have time to waste feeling like I wasted my time, my efforts or my days. On the other hand, I also don’t believe that I will likely get rich and famous in this lifetime. This tool helps me find the middle ground. The personal and achievable tasks that make me feel like I took advantage of my time, my intelligence and my life.

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