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Linear Progression

May 18, 2007

Do you believe you are making great progress toward the achievement of your life’s goals?   If you answered no, then perhaps, like me you have a relatively uncertain view of your plan for the long term future.  Perhaps you are in a career track that you planned in college, or maybe  you’ve wandered afield.  Are you living the kind of life that you envisioned and planned?  If yes, did you get to this point purposefully, or by happenstance?

Imagine seeing your life through the lense of a digital camera with that power zoom feature.  Now imagine that the camera is seeing a graph, and everything you do is a plotted point.  If you adjust the focus so that it is as tight as possible, you are seeing just one day.  All those spots are those things like taking a shower, getting dressed, driving to work or to school, picking up the dry cleaning, watching TV, reading a book, posting to your blog, etc.  If you adjust the focus to a wider view, you can see a year, ten years, fifty years, and then at the end of the wide range, your whole life.   As you widen the focus, the detailed dots of each day merge into a single dot, taking on the theme of the day, days becoming weeks, weeks becoming months.   What does your scatter plot diagram look like?  I believe you would be plotting the relative value of each activity toward your line of purpose, over time.  (Diagram source and analysis tips)

Scatter Diagram

 Now consider your long term goals, where you want to be in 20 years, 50 years, at the end of your life.  If you were now to try to fit a line between the start, and the end, through how many of those plotted dots would the line run?   How co-linear would it be?


Assuming that somethings build upon others, there could be a logical order to do things in.  As you tighten down the focus, while keeping the end objectives in mind, you can begin to re-prioritize how you are spending your time and energy.  Which projects and assignments are really strategic, and which are distractions?   I’m often distracted from my true goals by “shiny rocks”.   Things that seem interesting, but consume time and resources.  Pursuing these, takes me away from what I would rather have, upon careful reflection.   The same can hold true in career.  If you look back at your job history, and find you have hopped from company to company, you might ask what opportunity you are really looking for?  If you’ve stayed in the same job / company, are you making progress toward what you want to become?  If you look back over the last five or ten years, can you see a linear progression ? 

Do you hold a higher position, have more responsibility and reward than you did in the past?  If you extrapolate going forward, does this path get you where you want to go? 

So, play with the focus on your life a bit, zoom in and out, plot some best fit lines to see where you’ve been, and extrapolate where your line shows you are heading.  Is it linear?  Do the dots of your days and years correlate to the line of your life?  If the correlation is weak – the dots generally follow the direction of the line but are floating around it like a cloud, then examine some of them and see if you are doing things in the right order.  As you set your near term goals, challenge yourself as to whether what you are about to do is really strategic, and how it builds toward your goal.

If your plot shows little to no correlation, then you might consider whether you really have a long term goal in mind and see if you can envision one.  Perhaps it’s easiest to look back at where we have  been and ask ourselves if we will be happy doing more of the same kind of stuff going forward?

Line conveys purpose and efficiency.  The more of our dots (time, energy, resources) we can keep on our line, the more progress along it we will make, and the higher the resulting value.   In short, are you leading your life deliberately? 

One Comment leave one →
  1. sweetlybroken permalink
    May 18, 2007 4:05 pm

    Wow, GREAT way to get the mind going, very, very thought provoking. I’d comment more but you’ve given me a ton to think about.
    Thanks for posting a blog that came at the perfect time.

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