Around New Years, @designpepper suggested several interesting blog titles and topics for anyone to write. It is appropriate that almost three months after the topic and title was suggested I’m finally writing the post. Far too often I believe my content is driven by stats, traffic statistics, RSS feed traffic, technoratti rankings, page ranks, comment numbers, etc. When I first started to write a blog the idea was to write about my virtual life; the things I did, the friends I had, events I went to, etc. Somewhere between that idea and my many website redesigns, statistics, SEO improvements, plugins, new graphics, code optimization, new topics and reading about techniques to increase traffic; the original idea was lost. It’s not a bad thing, but I wonder what all of these gadgets have gotten me? If I were to graph out my personal progress based on this website, I believe I’m on the downside of the bell curve (and I have the Google Analytics stats to prove it!) So what happened?
The Keep It Simple Stupid model applies somewhere in this conversation but I believe this example has a broader message, how do you measure, track and not lose sight of personal and professional progress. There isn’t a graph, chart, or ROI model for this sort of development; there’s an internal switch that says "I’ve made it!" What happens at that point is an interesting dilemma, after achieving the goals set out, should new ones be made or are these accomplishments placed on a mantle to be hailed forever? Those are personal decisions everyone has to make, but we lose sight of our progress when we make the wrong decisions.
Accomplishing goals and creating sustainable progress does not occur overnight. Like the current economy, a major issue does not fixed by any one decision. College like cram sessions to resolve a problem do nothing but provide temporary band-aids; this may achieve the goal of getting an "A" but does not provide any of the long term benefits required for the next test. In today’s world, numbers, charts, graphs, are the tools and gadgets that provide them are today’s cram sessions. The moment an investment turns sour, website traffic stats are downturned, sales are low, emergency e-mails arrive in our mailboxes, quick reactionary decisions are made. This isn’t progress, it does not take into account why things failed, the conditions for this failure and the plans in place to handle these hardships.
How do you handle a recession of any kind? The answer is by setting long term goals and not basing opinions solely on the gadgets that promise a better return for an investment. In my example I hit a downturn because I kept thinking too narrowly about my website. The goals I had in place were only short term goals, reliant on numbers and not the ultimate goal I’ve set out for myself. My results were poor because they were incompatible with the sort of progress I wanted. The more I paid attention to ranks, traffic numbers, page rankings, and based my decision solely on those indicators, the poorer I did. This is not to say they are not important.
Seth Simonds recently posted that Gary Vaynderchuck cannot help you unless your committed to making real changes. This change is by setting out real goals rather than those which include numbers and stats. In order to achieve real progress, identify the gadgets needed to achieve these goals.