Truth Is Just Perception

What Should You Focus On: Goal Achievement Or Progress?

The opposite of more is better.

Performance measurement and management – the latter being much more difficult to implement than the former – using quantitative and qualitative data is the only way to know whether we are achieving our strategic objectives. However, this approach must be coupled with a continuous focus on progress for at least three reasons.

First, the quest for progress is more meaningful than the achievement of objectives. The human brain has an exploratory system that creates the impulse to explore, experiment and be creative. When we do this, our exploratory system makes sense of our activity and releases dopamine – a neurotransmitter linked to motivation and pleasure – which makes us want to explore more. All human beings feel this need to explore. From this perspective, progress is a much more powerful vehicle for accomplishment than goals.


Secondly, we can compromise with our progress, but not with our goals. This implies that the quest for improvement not only gives us the right to make mistakes, but also encourages us to make them, on the express condition that we learn from each of them. In fact, trying to do everything right at all times is a recipe for “heroic mediocrity”: If we do not challenge ourselves by taking the risk of failing, we do not give ourselves the chance to improve. It is therefore necessary to secure one’s objectives while challenging one’s improvement. Focusing only on one’s goals can make one lose sight of the quest for improvement: Constantly reaching one’s goals can give the illusion of perfection. Conversely, the sole pursuit of progress can jeopardize the achievement of one’s goals: Improvement, whatever its concrete results, should not suffice.

Finally, setting and achieving goals leads us to compare ourselves to others, while the quest for improvement puts us into competition with ourselves, the most difficult benchmark of all. While beating the competition can sometimes be easy, surpassing ourselves is a never-ending commitment.

A famous aphorism states that the opposite of more is better. Combining goal setting and continuous improvement doesn’t oppose those two notions but make them work hand in hand.

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