Your trajectory matters more than where you currently are

Your trajectory matters more than where you currently are

There are certain points at work, or with our lives, where we stop and take stock of where we are.  

  • Are we at the level we thought we would be?
  • Did we achieve what we wanted to achieve?
  • Do our customers love our product?
  • Is our product delivering more revenue?

And often we're disappointed because the current state isn't what we expected. 

  • We aren't performing at the level we wanted to
  • We haven't hit our goals
  • We still have customer churn or a NPS score we're not happy with
  • We aren't meeting our revenue targets

However, this point in time assessment of progress may not be the best approach to determining whether our journey is heading in the right direction. 

Why trajectory matters

Let's look at some examples:

1) There is a rival product in the market.  It has 1,000 paying users.  You have 3,000 paying users.  If we look at this point in time, things look favorable for us.  If we find out that they've obtained 1,000 users in six months, and over the same period we've only picked up 200, things don't look the same.

2) We applied for a new product manager job.  We got down to the last two, but the company went with someone else.  If we look at this result, we might feel downhearted.  If we consider the fact that six months ago we didn't have any product experience and the majority of the applicants were coming in to the process with two or three years experience, then we should feel buoyed by the progress we're making.

In the first example, we can see that with additional information about where both products have been to get to the point they are currently at, we can see the trajectory of the rival product seems to indicate them closing the gap in paying subscribers very soon.  This knowledge gives us a completely different view of how we should react to the rival.

In the second example, we can take heart in our progress towards our dream product manager role, as we progressed much further than many more experienced PMs and we managed to impress the recruiters to take us right down to the last stage in the process.  Our career trajectory seems steeper than many of the other PMs seeking roles at the moment.

What should you be doing

When it comes to analyzing anything, whether it is a product feature or your career, always look at how the result is being reached and at what speed.

  • How quickly is progress being made?
  • Is there a track record of growth?
  • Is there an upward trend?
  • What were the factors that led to today's point in time?

If you can see the journey that is being taken and how it is being taken, then you'll be better positioned to react for the future steps in that journey.