There are two ways to think about progress in our careers – slope and intercept.
Intercept focuses on where you are now – the role, company, or location you are in or the promotions and raises you have gotten.
Slope, on the other hand, is all about trajectory. There isn’t an easy measurement for slope as it measures direction and learn rate – i.e. where you are going and how quickly you are learning to get there.
There may be short periods of time when focusing on intercept is called for. But, when in doubt, I’ve learnt that a focus on slope serves us well. Intercept is static and indexes on easily comparable prestige (or the lack of it). Static measurements generally inspire envy.
Slope, on the other hand, is dynamic and indexes on learning and self. And, dynamic measurements inspire a desire for growth.
A focus on slope isn’t just a happier path (it is that too) – it is also far more important. In the long run, our slope defines our intercepts and not the other way around.