Progress: it is something that we all strive for as human beings.
How we determine whether we are exceeding, or perhaps failing, in certain areas or aspects of our lives is what is often referred to as progress tracking.
The ways in which we determine progress are often up for debate and can lead to differences of opinion. But the main priority is this: we must strive to improve and become better overall for our own personal growth.
After all, evolution is progress. And where would we be as a species if we never learned to walk or let alone communicate?
Otherwise, we would all be stagnant, lazy and nothing would ever get done or dare I say it: progress.
And while no change at all might seem ideal for some, if everyone else is moving forward or advancing in their careers or life goals, the person who isn’t accomplishing much might feel a little left behind. Perhaps even lost and aimless, which then could cause further stagnation and laziness.
So how can one keep on progressing in a meaningful way? How can we hold ourselves accountable without turning into our own harshest critic?
Well, ever wish you could create your own customizable progress tracker? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!
Why Progress Matters
Progress isn’t something that is achieved in seconds, but rather, something that is seen over time.
Often, we are progressing in our goals without even realizing we are as we often get stuck focusing on the end result rather than the path we took to get there.
Patience is required, but this should not be construed as inaction. To progress in your career, for example, you may need to be patient. No company or organization is going to hand you a six-figure salary and an increase in responsibilities without you first proving yourself to them.
In other words, you need to take action(s) to show your worth and that you deserve that promotion.
When it comes to promotions, often you will need to show you have progressed far enough that you are ready for the next step. Taking actions and accomplishing goals are the small steps you will take to show (or track) your progress and evolution.
Along this road, you may even encounter those who either want to stunt your growth or help you succeed. How you curb their criticism, or manage their expectations, is yet another steppingstone towards progress.
My Personal Struggle With Progress
Speaking of harsh critics, there is no one more critical of my own progress than…well, you guessed it, ME! I can be my worst enemy at times, which doesn’t help with my own personal growth or progressing on tasks that I need to complete.
For example, as a self-proclaimed prolific writer, at times I find myself struggling to reach the end of a short story, let alone submit my prose to a publisher.
Why is that? It’s a short story after all, so why can’t I finish? Why are each of my next great American novels still not on bookshelves but rather collecting dust in a folder on my hard drive?
That’s because I haven’t progressed in the manner that I was (or am) expected to. I didn’t set goals or self-proclaimed steppingstones to the end result. I dove in headfirst and, surprisingly, felt like I was diving into an abyss of self-doubt. As you might have guessed, my creative juices soon ran dry and I was drowning in a sea of self-pitty. I was devolving into something I wasn’t.
Clearly, I was or had been listening to much to the critic who lives inside my head. You know, the one who tells you this is stupid or a waste of time or other negative words aimed at preventing me from reaching the end result.
I let the negativity affect me to the point where no action or progress was fine by me. But was it? I had a story to tell, one that I wanted to write for myself, and yet here I sat crippled by my inability to finish.
Stagnant. Lazy. Unproductive.
Not helpful, nor healthy, thinking. It can spiral out of control. So how can we get a grip?
I thought to myself: did I add a title? Yes. Well, then I am progressing aren’t I? Did I write an engaging opening paragraph? It sure made me want to read on. Could my second or third paragraph be touched up with some punchier words? Sure, but that’s called re-writing, not writing. I wasn’t there just yet.
These were the steps that I was too blind to see, the ones that if I really took the time to think about, made me inch closer to a final product.
Inspired to prove myself wrong, I immediately began to think about creating a progress tracker, one that I could show to myself or others of the actions I was taking to prove I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
Here’s why you should create your own PDF progress tracker and how powerful they can be.
How To Create Your PDF Progress Tracker
Now that we’ve seen the importance of progress and pushing through negativity, we need to discuss how to create your own progress tracker using the portable document format.
Why a PDF? Because PDFs by nature are perfect for storing information and for it to be universally read and viewed as intended. A PDF is like having a printed copy but not only did you save paper, you avoided a dreaded papercut and physical damage to your copy!
I began by creating my progress tracker with a PDF editor like Soda PDF, where I was able to create a document from blank. I began to create the progress tracker by using the Edit tool:
I added the title of my short story and aptly called it my short story progress tracker. Already, I felt like this was a small step towards progress. By focusing on the little details, the big picture was becoming as clear as day.
I continued to swim to the surface. I used the Forms tab to add Checkboxes, perfect for checking off as a sure sign that I was progressing (once the sub-tasks were completed, of course).
My PDF was now the title of the progress I was looking to track for my project along with checkboxes, but where were the actions I needed to take to reach the final destination?
I went back to the Edit tab and began to write out all the steps I needed to take to make my short story possible before even considering whether it was publishable.
So, before I could begin writing, had I done enough research to begin with? I hadn’t thought of that before. How did I know if my story had already been told, let alone how it was told?
By reading short stories, I was progressing in two ways:
- I was researching, which was not only going to help my writing, but help me understand the elements that go into creating great horror fiction.
- I was learning from other writers, ones who progressed far enough to reach their end, and had become published. I was learning their stories and why they were so popular in the first place.
I sat back in disbelief. Where was this voice in my head telling me how much of a waste of time this was? He was gone. Dead silent. He could say nothing because suddenly I was filled with another voice, a more positive one, that shouted: KEEP GOING, YOU’RE DOING GREAT!
And so I did:
Here’s what it looked like:
Suddenly, I had goals. I had a direction. I had a clear path to my end goal. I had a way to track my progress and measure my success or failures.
I was evolving into something more than just a writer, I was becoming more than just “a work in progress”.
I was becoming a better person. I was no longer my biggest obstacle, I was my biggest fan. I was proud of myself for mapping out my strategy and my path towards success.
I was becoming so good, it was scary!