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Friday Tip|Benchmarks


This is one of my favorite video clips.  To me, this is the pinnacle of success.  And not because it put a few guys into space.

Today’s tip is a bit philosophical, but I promise to make it up to any and all reading with four straight weeks of practical tips that don’t make your brain hurt.

I want to talk about benchmarks.  I’ve always sort of known what the word means, but never thought about it much until I went back to school.  Even then, I thought about it more in the context of “will knowing what the word ‘benchmark’ means get me a good grade on this exam/paper?” than I really thought about it.

Until recently.  And for a change, I’m going to keep this short and sweet and just get to the point; I’ve been thinking that it’s a good idea to have benchmarks for success.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Sure, I’ve always had a “to do” list, but I’ve never really taken stock, on a daily basis, and thought “what would need to happen for me to feel really great about this day?”  Benchmarks.  Something to measure against.

If you’re trying to get better at cooking, or anything, I think you need benchmarks to help you out, so you can measure your progress.  Because learning a skill – whether it’s a new skill or one that you’re trying to bolster or refine – requires a way to determine whether what you are doing is helping your progress, or hindering it.

And “it tasted good” or “it looked perfect” isn’t enough.  That’s far too broad.  You need to be more specific.  Like the guy in the video.  Notice he says “Liftoff, we have a liftoff at 32 minutes past the hour.”  And then he says “the tower is clear.”  He’s marking off all the successes of the launch, rather of focusing only on whether or not the shuttle goes into space or if the guys make it to the moon.

He’s a smart cookie, our tower controller (or whatever he’s called, I have no idea).  He’s listing off everything that is going right, for future reference.  This is really important when you’re learning something new or trying something for the first time.

Because I guarantee that not everything will go right the first time.  It might not go right the 48th time.  So if you’re frustrated with your cooking, break down the things that need to be remedied and give yourself little benchmarks for success.  If the chicken always sticks to the pan when you make Chicken Kiev, make your next success benchmark the chicken not sticking and then focus all your efforts on that thing until you make it happen.  But give yourself a specific goal that you can work your way to, systematically, a little at a time if necessary.

And remember to have a little glass of wine when the tower is clear.

Hope that’s helpful!



  1. Lola T. says:

    I also do the things-to-do list before but I couldn’t keep up with the changes of my schedule. That’s why I just stick to my usual routine. I haven’t tried making Chicken Kiev but I tried not to burn the chicken and avoid getting burn by oil when frying. I wonder if it is easy to make chicken kiev. I agree that it is important to give a specific goal that one can work his way to.
    Lola T.´s last blog post ..Dieta del alpiste

  2. Letitia says:

    I could read a book about this without finding such real-world aphpracoes!

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