As my friend re-filled his water bottle, he took a marble from one container and placed it into another. I asked what he was doing and he explained to me it was a part of the 'Counting Principle'.

For every goal you can make quantifiable - you will be naturally driven to improve.

I realized that human beings are geared for growth. The time we spend in school is learning lessons, sitting tests, and progressing when we have proven our worth. Our applicable intelligence is valued on a scale with reference to the pass-mark. If I was a C student and now I'm a B, I am rewarded by my support network and by the increase in self-worth.

This behavioral pattern stays with us throughout life. We continually strive for development and progress in all areas of our life - and it is easiest to value this effort and worth when it is placed placed on a quantifiable scale.

The start of each year is the most common time to set personal goals. It is natural to evaluate the previous 12 months and challenge yourself to improve in the next. And we are taught to be specific with our desires. 'I want to lose weight' is not enough. It is correct to specify exactly 'how much' weight you intend to lose. 'I want to be rich' is too vague - Exactly 'how much' money do you want? 'I want to get fit'... could turn into... I will run four miles without stopping.

Let's start with weight loss. If your goal is to lose 20lbs, how do you know how you are going unless you get on the scales? You need quantifiable justification of your progress to continue with the improved diet and increased exercise, otherwise your desire will fade as you will not see progress.

For the runner who has measured a 4 mile circuit around their neighborhood and makes just 1 mile on the first day before slowing to a walk, will definitely be driven to push past the same mark on the next attempt. We need a measurable challenge to push ourselves. This runner would not stop 10 houses short on the following run because they would be admitting defeat. They would push 10 houses past the last mark. And the next day, 10 houses past that. No one likes taking a backward step.

The counting principle states: Anything you can measure and compare - you will instinctively look to improve.

And everything you wish to achieve is quantifiable. That means, no matter what your goal - there will be a way to measure your progress.

My friend knew he was drinking too much soda, so for every bottle of water he drank he added a marble to the reward pile. At the end of the month he counted the marbles and compared it to the previous month. If he had more than before he organized a treat (like a massage) as a reward.

Without the marbles he could not have known his progress. As he was striving for growth, and he had means to quantify his efforts, he naturally wanted to drink filtered water and not soda.

Look at the goals you have set for yourself right now. If they are not quantifiable, re-word them so they are. Measuring your progress will keep you focused and boost your self-worth.

Achieving your goals becomes easier when using the Counting Principle.

Author's Bio: 

Nigel Coates is moderator of the Explore Meditation Blog and offers all new subscribers to his newsletter a Free Guided Meditation for Peace of Mind and Spiritual Growth.