How to achieve and maintain continuous improvement

Every business professional faces the following dilemma at some point in their development: Once I’ve achieved the goals I’ve set for myself, how do I continue to move forward? Some people respond to this question by resting on their laurels, letting their skills degrade and the glory of their past accomplishments fade. Others refuse to let themselves feel the sense of accomplishment that is their due, forcing themselves to eternally move the goalposts. Both of these approaches are essentially unsatisfying in the long run. In the former case, the professional will lose the sense of purpose that once drove him to succeed, likely falling into the slough of despond and low-grade depression. In the latter case, early burn-out is likely, as the constant resetting of goals causes the person to forget why he got into his line of work in the first place.

The answer to this dilemma lies in adopting not just a strategy, but a philosophy of constant self-improvement. In this philosophy, to quote a Chinese proverb, “the journey is the reward.” The goals one sets should be thought of more as markers along a path than the ultimate objective. As author Alex Noble puts it, “success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”