The best ways to measure your self-improvement

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Everyone wants to be better, and there are loads of methods you can use to create meaningful change in your career and beyond.

That said, if you don’t have concrete ways to measure those developments, then you’re not going to get very far. You won’t be able to see exactly how you’ve improved, and being able to track your progress is an essential factor when it comes to motivating yourself to keep going

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Thankfully, many brilliant methods are available for properly measuring your self-improvement, and we’ve explored seven of them right here – so you won’t be short of inspiration.

The self-improvement inspiration doesn’t stop here, either. We’ve got vital advice for developing a positive attitude at work and beyond alongside the best habits for a productive workday.

Use definitive deadlines 

It’s just a psychological fact that most of us won’t achieve our goals if there’s no deadline attached – no matter how motivated we are, humans tend to perform better if we can aim at a firm date.

No matter your goal, you need to give a bit of thought towards the deadline you’ve set. Personal development is going to involve challenging yourself, but if you develop a deadline that’s just not achievable then you’ll struggle to keep up, lose motivation, and stop working on that self-improvement goal. It’s all about setting a balance – a deadline has to push you, but it’s got to be realistic too.

When setting a deadline, make a note of when your project started alongside that prospective end date. And – whether on a to-do list app, a journal or a post-it note – remind yourself to break that deadline down into smaller chunks so you can measure your progress on the way. If you do that, your end goal won’t seem so impossible, especially when you’re just starting your journey.

If you do this, you’ll be able to see your development mounting up as the weeks and months move forward, and these regular milestones and smaller achievements can keep you motivated to keep going.

Deliver the data 

Many different self-improvement methods produce data – whether it’s losing weight, writing a book or saving money – and you should rely on that data to track your progress. It’s crucial and allows you to measure how you’re doing and see how far you’ve come on your self-improvement journey.

This doesn’t have to be complex, either. Many self-improvement projects can be evaluated using simple data types, and you only need to use a spreadsheet to keep on top of the numbers. Install an office tool on your phone so you can always log those all-important figures, or keep the spreadsheet in a file-sharing app like Dropbox to ensure that you can always reach the file.

Keep a journal 

A spreadsheet might be the best method to measure and monitor plenty of self-improvement projects, but there will be lots of areas where simply logging numbers isn’t enough.

Instead, consider journaling to monitor your development. Filling in a journal every day or every week will provide you with frequent milestones, and a journal is better than a spreadsheet if you want to track goals that don’t necessarily deliver loads of data. If you’re working on your mental health, eliminating negative thoughts, developing healthy habits or monitoring your moods then being able to jot down your daily progress can prove crucial for long-term success.

Download some apps 

Most of us are rarely without our smartphones, so it makes sense to lean on apps that are designed for self-improvement tracking.

There are loads of utilities out there to help in all sorts of diverse ways: MyFitnessPal is brilliant for food tracking, Headspace is amazing for meditation, and you’ll be able to find loads of software for tracking water intake, how much cash you’ve saved, how much weight you’ve lost or your exercise.

Many of these apps are brilliant additions to your self-improvement armory. They’re often not just useful for tracking your daily progress, either; they can help you deliver deadlines, offer advice and use notifications to remind you to stay on target.

Check in with yourself 

Whether it’s data in a spreadsheet, a helpful tracking app or a daily journal, there’s no shortage of measurement methods that can provide you with concrete evidence of your progress.

That said, not all your checks need to be so tangible. If you want a morale boost alongside a measurement, simply take a second to think about how far you’ve come – you might notice that your physical capabilities have improved, that you’re not succumbing to harmful thoughts and habits, or that you’ve become more confident and assured in key areas.

You might not be able to measure this sort of stuff with data, but you can still get a measure of how far you’ve come.


If you want to take control of your entire personal development process then you could do worse than using the SMART method.

That acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, and those are the five key things you need if you want your personal development goals to work well for you.

If you use this method, you’ll be able to define what you want to do and how you’ll do it – and that includes how you measure progress. It’s used by people around the world in business and beyond, so you can be sure it works. We’ve got a guide, too – head here if you’d like some more in-depth information.

Get qualified 

Many of your personal development goals will undoubtedly revolve around learning – whether it’s an instrument, a martial art, or a skill you’d like to improve or gain to boost your career.

Plenty of these improvements can be certified by a qualification, like a music grade or a new belt in martial arts. And if your area of improvement is related to your profession, you can prove your new knowledge with an official qualification that’s recognized by an industry body.

Get that all-important certificate and you won’t just have a concrete method for measuring your progress – you’ll have a document that can earn you a promotion, boost your salary and turbo-charge your career.

Keep track of your progress with the best note-taking apps.

Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.