Many people trick themselves into thinking that they are making progress. They trick themselves into thinking that they are doing “everything” they can to launch that business, to lose weight, to become a better speaker, and to be overall more successful. Most of the time, however, and sadly so, these people are barely scratching the surface of what it takes to reach their goals, yet at some level they believe; or to put it more accurately, they want to believe that their efforts are enough to help them realize their goals.

I see a lot of people every day who are circumscribed by those beliefs. They believe they shouldn’t spend a good 6 – 8 hours of their day consciously working on their goals. They believe they should work “smarter” and not “harder” and blah blah blah. People who believe they should work “smarter” are typically people who do the bare minimum to get by. Their heart is not into what they are doing and they are simply tagging along “to see what happens” or until they “figure out what they are truly passionate about.”

I am not saying you should not search for your purpose; you are certainly entitled to do so. But that’s on you to do. No one will find your purpose for you. And you won’t find your purpose sitting at home or in front of your TV or by slacking off at your job. If you are not investing serious, and I mean serious, effort into experiencing different venues for self-expression, then you are not serious about finding your purpose. You are simply lazy.

But there is a second group of people who, unlike the lazy archetype, are enslaved by false beliefs. They genuinely want to accomplish their goals, but they are not aware of what the process of reaching their goals really looks like. They have false beliefs about the process. They often romanticize the process of success and think of it as a linear experience from start to finish where the good times dominate and also outnumber the bad ones. Now, I have no doubt that their heart is in it, but the truth is that their failure to make real progress is a result of lacking certain skills. They do not have the necessary set of skills to help them chart the strategic path and/or execute.

In this post, I will discuss a few modest ideas that will hopefully help you elevate your consciousness and to get you to start taking active control of your decisions.

1. Doubt

Doubt has a negative connotation in today’s society. It’s popularly synonymous with second guessing oneself and it is usually contrasted with having confidence in one’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Doubt, as it seems, is bad. It says you don’t have enough confidence. Let’s call this negative self-doubt.

Here I want to talk about doubt from another perspective. I want to talk about the idea of positive self-doubt. For me, positive self-doubt is the process of asking oneself critical questions about one’s performance and effort. This is an important aspect of goal realization because you don’t want to act on your choices unreflectively. You don’t want to be directed by other people’s judgements, feelings, and moods. You want to be self-directed. You want your choices to be a result of a genuine process of continuous assessment and reflection.

Practically, this helps you identify the areas where you need to improve yourself. You may need to improve your writing skills, managerial skills, speaking skills, money management skills, strategy skills, negotiation skills, etc, and positive self-doubt will take care of that for you. Once you recognize that a certain area in your life needs work, then it’s your responsibility to search for resources that can help you cultivate those skills.

Now if you are aware that you need certain skills and you have decided at some level that you “don’t have time” or “you will find a way without those skills” or “others have become successful without those skills,” then you may certainly think so. And you will certainly suffer along the way; both emotionally and financially.

Please do not trick yourself with the illusion of progress. Stop wasting your time. Going to a “business meeting” unprepared every once in a while is not progress. Hanging out with your “business friends” is not progress. Reading one post about business is not progress. Stop deceiving yourself. You have to understand that progress is proportional to the amount of productive work you put into your projects. That’s the truth. You are free to not believe it.

2. Measure Your Progress

It’s important to use positive self-doubt in your life. But it’s also important to measure your progress.

If you don’t measure your progress, then you are like a captain without a map or a compass. You will never know when you are there. You will never know what tactics, strategies, and ideas you need to change and modify. You might even hit the rocks without knowing. In fact, you will know when you hit the rocks, but it will be too late.

So how do you measure your progress?

You have to create a word document. Okay, I know this is common sense, but because it is so obvious, people often dismiss this advice. But if you want to reach your goals, then this is what you need to do: Create a word document and TYPE UP your numbers. If it’s a business; write down the strategy you are using along with the profits, expenses, and costs. If it’s losing weight, write down your sets and reps and calories. Yes, it will take some time in the beginning, but you will have a very CLEAR picture of exactly why you are where you are. You will have DATA. You will know what ideas you need to keep and what ideas you need to get rid of depending on how things evolve.

Diligently measuring your progress and having the numbers on a word document will show you what’s really going on with your business. Make this a priority for once and be precise. You will save yourself a lot of time, a lot of headache, and a lot of money.