Progress Is Never a Straight Line!

by Krantcents · 36 comments

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Progress is forward movement toward a destination or goal.  In education, changes are made often and the results are mixed!  Have test scores increased from the changes?  If they did, that would be progress.  We need progress in everything we do.  Business and your personal life are based on achieving goals.  How can you become more effective?

There are many strategies to make you more effective.  Before you can use any strategy to improve your effectiveness, you must start with your motivation.  I often hear people say that they want something which can range from more money to losing weight.  Thanks to low motivation, no matter what strategy you use, you fail.  Soon it will be 2013 and everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions.  A large majority of people say they want to lose weight.  They join health clubs or gyms, go two or three times and never go back.  Their motivation was not strong enough to change their habits!

Many years ago, I was one of those people.  I gained a lot of weight over the holidays and decided to go on a diet.  I started to lose weight, but it did not happen immediately and I was discouraged.  I was motivated because I wanted to get back in shape.  Motivation gets you through the ups and downs of weight loss.  I started with cutting out the mid afternoon candy from the snack machine.  I changed my lunch to have more fruits and vegetables.  I started to eat what I brought for lunch when I was hungry.  I made sure that I substituted good food for the bad food I used to eat.

This strategy worked very well for me.  I lost 35-40 lbs. in roughly 10-12 weeks.  I was motivated, but I also had a plan.  I made small changes to my diet and started to have success.  Initially, I just wanted to lose the twenty (20) lbs. I gained over the holidays, but I was so motivated I kept going and lost forty (40) lbs!  This was not just a weight loss strategy; it was a strategy that helped me with a variety of goals.  I used what I learned to develop a strategy for success.  I used it in my career, investments and my personal life.  What are my strategies?

My Strategies

Start with your goal/outcome

I always start with the goal or outcome and work backwards!  I would break down the goal into daily tasks and monitor my progress weekly.  I would adjust my efforts to meet weekly goals or milestones.  Every week, I would adjust my efforts to meet milestones.  If I missed that week’s milestone, I would increase my effort to reach next week’s goals.  If I want to save $60,000 for a down payment on home, I would determine how much I could save weekly or monthly.  I would probably include some form of investing to use the power of compounding.

Personalize approach

I always personalize my approach to problem solving because I am the one who has to achieve the goal.  If I use someone else’s approach it may not work for me.  It is a little like an exercise regime.  Books tell you should exercise in the morning for the best results.  You know you get your metabolism going early, you burn more calories, but it may not work for you.  I get up pretty early already and move a lot in my job.  It works better for me to walk after dinner.  My wife walks with me and it keeps e from sitting too long.


You can develop your strategies from other people, but you need to adapt them to you.  Health experts agree that we all need cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training activities.  You get to pick the ones you like and enjoy.  How much do you need?  You need enough to maintain good health.  Start with the healthy statistics doctors will use to measure your health.  For example, blood pressure, Cholesterol, EKG, body mass index (BMI) and some lab tests.  What exercise do you need to do to maintain those statistics?  Adapt the ones you enjoy.  I use cycling, walking and weight lifting.

Develop choices/alternatives

Here is never one solution to a problem!  There is never one strategy to achieve a goal.  Whenever I think about how achieve a particular goal, I think about several solutions.  I make my choice by figuring out which is the best solution and put aside the alternatives.  If my first choice does not work, I can always try one of my alternatives.  My preferred exercise solution to staying fit is cycling and weight lifting.  Sometimes weather prevents me from cycling.  I could use a treadmill or my bicycle trainer.  How would I apply this to investments?  Develop a list of mutual funds, stocks or ETFs that would achieve the financial goals.

Make a list

Putting your goals/tasks/milestones in writing helps you achieve your goals!  By simply writing things down helps you crystallize, formalize and prioritize your goals.  I use lists to keep me focused on whatever I am working on.  It reminds me of when I would put a note on the mirror so I would look at it every morning.  It reminded me of my goal and kept me focused.  I used this strategy as my daily list of tasks to help me reach financial freedom in seven (7) years.  It worked for finding a real estate broker to finding properties.  What do you use to stay focused?

Final thoughts

Achieving goals is never a straight line.  Can you imagine investing and your investment returns increase?  I would love it, but it is not realistic.  If you ever tried to lose weight, there are ups and downs.  You need a strategy or overall plan to help you achieve your goals.  It helps you through those ups and downs.  You make better decisions and achieve better results.  Starting with the goal or outcome sets the path to success.  What do you do?  Progress is never a straight line!

Photo by:  cambodia4kidsorg

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Money Beagle December 18, 2012 at 5:15 am

For many people, 20 pounds is too big of a goal to stick with and see success. You seem very patient and such, so that’s no big deal, but many people need that motivation of reaching a more short term goal to continue toward the bigger picture, since the excitement that happens when you first set the goal wears off long before the goal itself is reached, in so many cases. It’s one reason I always suggest setting milestone goals along the way.

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

For the record , I am very impatient! I concentrated on daily tasks and changed what I ate. I stopped the candy bars which was my way to deal with stress. I substituted good food (fruits & vegetables) for calorie filled foods. I remember eating a lot of apples, celery and such. Any big goal can be overwhelming! I broke down the big goal into daily tasks which is much easier to achieve. It is not unlike personal financial goals or any other goals.

Holly@ClubThrifty December 18, 2012 at 6:56 am

I totally agree that progress is never a straight line. For us, it has always been two steps forward, one step back. But, as long as the general momentum is moving forward, that is all that matters!

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 8:09 am

My experience has been progress sometimes is backwards, sideways and more often goes in a direction you never expected. Monitoring progress allows for adjusting and adapting to the changes that occurs.

Tackling Our Debt December 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

I get discouraged too if I don’t see instant results. Many times it has held me back from achieving weight loss goals as well as other goals.

The times I have been successful with weight loss is when I find a diet that my body likes. For me it is low carb. It works well with my blood type and my body type. Are the results instant that way? No, but it is a diet that I can sustain for a long time. And you are right, we all need to choose what works best for us, no matter what the goal is or the problem is that we are working on.

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Very true! I guess that is why there are so many diet and other “how to” books. My approach is to break every goal or anything I want to d into a task that I can get my arms around. That way I feel good about doing each task.

Kim@Eyesonthedollar December 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

It’s easy to make progress when everything is going your way. It’ s how we deal with the setbacks that lets us achieve or not achieve progress. So many people give up at the first roadblock.

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Successful people fail quite often, but they keep going and succeed. It is probably the main difference between rich and poor.

John S @ Frugal Rules December 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

Great points! I wish it was a straight line, but it’s really not. I totally agree on setting a goal and go back from there while personalizing it. If you don’t make it personal your success is fairly unlikely.

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

My approach is to break down the goal and focus on the task. Tat way you can feel successful by completing the task.

Kathleen, Frugal Portland December 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Agree wholeheartedly — we’ve got to get out of the “straight line” mentality. If we focus on the goal, it doesn’t matter how we get there, as long as we’re there. It’s important to determine how viable our goal is rather than giving it up when the going gets tough.

Krantcents December 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

One of the reasons I develop daily tasks to reach my goals is there is satisfaction in performing the task. I also can measure my progress and adjust my effort to achieve the goal.

Ornella @ Moneylicious December 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

You are right. Have alternative options. Sometimes things come up and deter you from taking the path you started on. But, there’s nothing wrong with detours. :-)

I do write down my ideas in an “idea book.” For me, it sparks creativity, keeps me focus, and helps me plan.

Krantcents December 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Looking at alternatives is good decision making! So is adapting and adjusting!

Barbara Friedberg December 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Baby steps all the way, and don’t get discouraged. It’s easy to feel bad when the times get tough.

Krantcents December 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Absolutely! I try to concentrate on the (daily/weekly/monthly) tasks or details. If I take care of the details, the outcome should follow.

mbhunter December 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm, baby. I love that site. Almost ready to level up.

Krantcents December 20, 2012 at 7:32 am

I see that there is always an app for that! LOL! I tend to do things the old fashion way (before apps) and stick with daily tasks. I stay motivated by the success I feel by doing those daily tasks.

Buck Inspire December 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Awesome post KC! I was naive to think progress is a straight line. When I did run into a downturn, I would be totally unprepared and not able to deal. Sometimes it would throw me for such a loop, I would even be lower than when I started. Great advice and will implement this just in time for the new year. Thanks!

Krantcents December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

It reminds me of the stock market. Wouldn’t it be nice to see it go up indefinitely? It never does and we are happy with an 8-10% average return on investment over your lifetime.

My Own Advisor December 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Great post :)


Krantcents December 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

Thanks, I hope to return to read some of the other articles.

Financial Samurai December 25, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I couldn’t agree more Larry! There are SO MANY twists and turns in life it’s ridiculous!

Krantcents December 26, 2012 at 8:04 am

Around every corner may be a new opportunity and you never know until you get there.

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