Forward Momentum

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Find a person running in place and you’ve found an unhappy person.

And lest you point out people on treadmills who seem perfectly happy, let this runner tell you that no one enjoys running on a dreadmill unless absolutely necessary. Anyone you meet would rather run outside—or on an indoor track. When you expend effort, you want to feel progress.

True in exercise, true in work, true in life.

A common thread in my previous post about liking work and my assertion that you, too, like work: All people need to sense contribution and accomplishment to feel happy. When people stagnate in any life aspect, they feel restless, frustrated, and anxious.

When setting personal goals, I divide aspects of my life into “facets:” professional, educational, health and fitness, financial, and so forth. I set targets in each facet. Goal setting and milestone tracking help me stay on track and feel forward momentum.

And I try to help people around me—employees, mainly, but also friends and accountability partners—feel accomplishments as they happen.


  • If you manage people, ensure they know what you expect and how you want them to grow. Set markers that help them track progress. Successful employees mean happy employees.

  • If you have a significant other, find ways to keep your relationship growing and changing. Learn different things together. Share new experiences. Stay alert to qualities about your partner that you hadn’t noticed before, so he stays fresh to you.

  • If you seek to better your finances, health, or knowledge, set milestones that recognize progress: Saving one month’s income, the first conversation for which you didn’t translate each sentence from English into Italian in your head before you spoke it, or the first time you ran a full mile.

How do you measure your successes?