In sports, the answer to this question is obvious. We know it worked if at the end of the 4th quarter we have more points on the scoreboard than the other team. Over the course of a season, the measurement is how many wins and how many losses.
If they are trailing by a few points towards the end of the game, athletes can find extra energy to power through. They see the finish line and know what the goal is. They are clear on what the goal is and know how they affect the end result.
In business and life, this can be a bit trickier. You determine the time frame. You dictate how big or small the goal is. You are responsible for setting the pace. You know how much longer you need to push before it's time to take a break.
How will you know if it worked?
This is the most important question you can ask yourself.
It defines the finish line. It provides a benchmark to measure the results. It gives you a way to make sense of the data and feel fulfilled when you get there.
Here are three easy steps to help answer the question:
DEFINE THE WIN
Define the win. It's frustrating to work hard on a project and be unclear if you did a good job.
Are you competing against yourself, a time frame, another company? You need to clarify what the challenge is and adjust accordingly.
Are you in the home stretch? Are you almost done? Are you running a marathon or a sprint? Pace yourself.
Energy is finite. You have a limited amount. Use it wisely.
If you gather data and do nothing with it, you are not making progress.
If it isn't working, change it! You must ask the question, "If I did more of this, would it help me achieve my goal?" Be honest about the answer. Search for new options. Do not get stuck in traditions or routines that are not helping you make progress towards your goal.