In a book and articles and talks, Harvard's Teresa Amabile has reminded us of the power of small wins and the value of seeing our incremental steps towards a goal. Game theory too shows us that mastering our challenges rests partly on marking progress, step by step by step. (A simple example: As readers may recall, I harnessed the power of incremental progress to drink sufficient water daily using this simple progress principle.)
Because I am undertaking a major project, I needed a reminder of the importance of the incremental as I move forward in the direction of (I hope, successful) completion. For this reminder, I looked to Dr. Judy Willis. A couple of years ago, I took a several-day training from her on the neuroscience of learning—and blogged about it, of course, here.
In a post for Psychology Today, Dr. Willis wrote about what we can learn from video games about goal achievement. She says:
Helping children keep records and make (or fill in bar graphs such as those you can get or make on websites such as http://www.onlinecharttool.com)of their ongoing progress can support them with a visual model similar to the video game feedback so they see that their efforts do lead to success and they have the power to build and build their achievement level. Creating progress graphs shows children their incremental goal progress in a concrete way to mimic the incremental progress feedback provided by getting to the next level on a computer game. The additional benefit is to show them that their effort toward their goal results in progress.
Of course those visual memorializations of progress can be motivating for us, too. That's the piece of the motivation puzzle on which I needed a refresher! Now onward and upward, armed with my progress-principle tools of incremental advancement, movement, and momentum.
To learn more about the brain science of making progress towards goals, watch this video of Dr. Willis.