In an earlier post (Visualizing progress: expect fluctuation and watch the trendline) I claimed that progress hardly ever happens in a straight line. Whatever it is you try to measure there will always be fluctuation. Sometimes there may be rapid change, at other times there will fallbacks. And sometimes these fallbacks are severe. At these times of serious fallbacks it is often easy to get discouraged. When serious fallbacks happen, we tend to think that our efforts have been in vain and we lose heart. In that earlier post I suggested two things: 1) It is normal for progress to show this kind of fluctuation, and 2) The trendline is an important line to watch. This line shows you that there is actual growth overall. The trendline is a very motivating line to watch.
Today, I came across a real life example. It is a picture of the development of the Dutch AEX index. The picture depicts a band of 5% growth since the beginning of the 1980's. These days there is much talk about the financial crisis. Indexes are taking heavy blows. Panic seems to be just around the corner. But, as we see, the current value of the AEX is at a decent historical average (source).