It’s fine to measure success by small improvements. In fact, its better than fine, it’s actually quite good.
I find it’s very easy to fall into the habit of planning larger projects and setting the marker for success as project completion, but the milestones along the way are often just as important.
If we focus too much on the end game, then tunnel vision, pressure and an inability to adjust to changing circumstances that were not foreseen when planning, can be unhealthy. We can get bogged down in self-judgement and fail to recognise what we have actually achieved so far; the things we have taken for granted,
Each step taken is an improvement, even if it may not feel like it. A disruption to the status quo, a vote of acceptance from an essential stakeholder, completion of project research, all steps that pave the way for change, all steps that may have never been done before and keep things in motion. This is progress, irrespective of how small.
I’ve had a week off recently and I spent a lot of time reflecting. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how I measure my own output and how I can best maintain a focus on recognising improvements. Its not something that’s been a particular problem for me, but I’m big on delivery and in avoiding analysis paralysis, and so I think about productivity fairly frequently.
One of the things I’ve decided to do is to to start taking the glory from gradualism; to recognise that the small stuff, is also important stuff, and that the small stuff done well is worth recognising and celebrating. Steps, stages and milestones, is completed work.
Next time you are working on a project or working towards a longer term goal, think about valuing your work in its entirety, both as a whole and in its individual steps. Gradual changes, incremental improvements and marginal gains are all valuable steps for recognising when you are someone who delivers, instead of someone who talks about delivering.