What is a milestone?

The milestone is actually an ancient invention stemming from the Roman empire.  They placed milestones, or rather obelisks, for each mile and wrote a number on the stones.  The number would indicate the distance from Rome or other larger cities.  It was an easy way to tell how far you had traveled.

Today we use milestones slightly differently, although you can still find mile signage on most highways around the world.  But, we don’t really talk about those markers in our daily lives.

We tend to focus on something slightly different when talking about milestones.   Many times such milestones are associated with either joy or stress.

At work, we come across milestones in project meetings.  Leadership and project managers always measure things in milestones, when providing high-level updates.

“We have reached a key milestone in our project, and released the test environment”

The conversation about milestones is important to provide a sense of progress and accomplishment, and many leaders also use these for measuring your performance.  Especially if you are responsible for the project.

Milestones are pushed down from leadership to team members.  It is measured at each level, and the pressure can increase dramatically downwards if the project is behind schedule.  That generates stress and challenges the team members to perform under pressure.

So, the pressure is always on achieving the milestones in business.  Something depends on achieving these and your success in the company will be based on your ability to meet those milestones.

My advice to team members; once you know the end goal, start planning your own milestones to be ahead of the game.  You can always prepare and you can always complete tasks, even if your work is depending on other work items.  If you are ahead and plan your work, then you will have less stress, and also be able to help your team.

But, this post is not only about project milestones.  We need to have milestones in our lives too.  It gives is ambition and a sense of success.

My milestones were initially based on family and career.

I wanted to reach a certain level in my professional life and worked hard to get there.

I wanted to have a perfect and loving family and made it.  Beautiful wife and three amazing kids … and a great sister and mum back in Denmark.

When I got sick last October, my perspective on life and milestones changed rather suddenly, and I was forced to review my definition of milestones and the time to get to each milestone.  I could no longer measure in dollars, love, cars, kisses, and kids.

When faced with one’s mortality, we quickly reassess our options and life.

Suddenly my milestones were measured in heartbeat per minute, steps taken, weight loss, hours or days without incident … would I live to see the next day or next week.  Those were the milestones that I dealt with.

Some milestones more dramatic than others, and some perhaps exaggerated.  Nevertheless, they were milestones that helped me keep focused and get better.

Each milestone I achieved was celebrated with hugs, tears, and smiles.

The milestones that I was given and set myself, helped me to push forward and helped me recover.  That is why milestones are so important in medical recovery.

You might at first think that they seem silly and insignificant, but they really help you focus on getting better.  Without milestones, you would quickly lose faith and hope, and that would stall or even regress your healing process.

My leadership was my doctors and my wonderful wife.  Without the latter pushing me forward, I would not have met some of these key milestones.  It is vital to have the support and also someone not afraid of pushing you towards goals.

The moral of this post is to encourage you to set milestones on most aspects of your life and celebrate those milestones no matter how small they might be.  Each achievement will boost your self-belief and chances of reaching the goal.

You determine what the goal is, but you have to fight to reach it!

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