I talk often about goals, dreams, and a focused vision as they are all extremely important to put in place for you life. However if all you do is set the destination, you are bound to fail.
We must define the actions we need to take and corresponding measurements to track in order to progress from our starting point to our finish line. Measurements work to track our progress, keep us on point, and are critical to driving success. And whether you’ve heard it before, or for the first time, let’s never forget the popular phrase:
“What gets measured gets done.“
Before we dig in, I want to make sure I differentiate my focus on measuring towards success versus measuring ourselves against others.
In an age where far too many people are sucked into keeping score (who has the the better car, bigger house, higher salary, most properties, etc.), it can be easy to find yourself drawn into ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Our actions become focused on getting that next status symbol as opposed to furthering our vision and purpose. However I challenge you to be true to your vision for yourself and not be distracted by the short term temptations.
Set your goals, put on blinders, and begin to measure your progress towards them. By measuring towards your goals as opposed to keeping score, I strongly believe you will not only increase your chances to reach the goal line, but you will also be far happier when you arrive.
Given that I’m writing on the topic, it is likely no surprise that I love to measure things! Every day I am tracking myself against something whether work, health, family or financially oriented. It keeps me focused, on point, and hungry.
On the topic of measuring towards goals, one of the concepts that impacted me most was when Todd Durkin came to speak at my previous company. He talked to us about the 8 Forms of Wealth (pictured below) and his monthly “3 in 30 Challenge”. The focus of this challenge is to identify 3 things you can do to ‘up your game’ in each of the 8 areas around the circle. These things should be specific, measurable, and achievable in the given month, with the purpose of improving your whole self in the process.
As one month comes to a close and another one is about to begin, I get pumped to begin thinking up my new ‘3 in 30’ items to keep my drive and momentum strong as I hit the new month focused, charged, and ready to roll.
I took a ton away from his visit with our team, and without a doubt this challenge has made the biggest impact towards helping me reach my goals in all the years since!
Increase Probability of Success through Measuring
Think about the company you work for or perhaps run. If the organization is executing successfully, it no doubt has a vision along with corresponding strategic goals and objectives to drive the business. Built into those goals and objectives are carefully thought out metrics and measures that track (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly) whether the activities that feed into them are incrementally moving the ball forward.
So why can’t we do the same thing for ourselves? I argue that we can – and should! Let’s take a look at some key benefits to measuring towards our personal goals and objectives.
Tangible Progress vs. Gut Feelings
Let me first say that I am a large proponent of trusting your gut. It is a critical tool that we all have and need to rely on.
But for a moment, let’s think back to our past. Think back to a time (yes, we’ve all been there) where we feel we must be crushing it (but aren’t), or on the flip side, where we think we are struggling yet end up surprising ourselves with the results. That ‘surprise factor’ is often the gut telling us one thing, when reality is actually telling us something very different.
Let’s leave trusting our gut to when it comes to making big decisions where we have a wealth of experience, and instead begin measuring against the actions we take to ensure we are making real progress towards our objectives.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight by improving your diet, don’t just feel like you are eating well (the scale may surprise you in a not so great way). Track the foods you eat and/or the calories you take in on a meal by meal basis so you know exactly when you are (and aren’t) eating in line with reaching your target weight (Note: I use the free version of MyFitnessPal to track my calories and/or macros when I am looking to gain or lose).
Measuring your progress instantly becomes a self-accountability check. If I am tracking the number of weight training workouts per week in order to boost overall strength, progress in a specific lift, etc., then I better get them in if I want to advance towards my goals!
When we set a goal, do not put this accountability framework in place, and then fail, we will have a very difficult time understanding why we failed. However, when we have our measures in place – even if we still fail to reach our goal line – we will have a clear indication as to why, and a way to correct our shortcomings the next time around to increase our probability of success.
Helps you understand where you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going
The beauty of measuring progress towards something is that you always know where you are in relation to where you started and where you want to end. It answers the age old question of “Are we there yet?!”.
Measuring can also serve as a great reminder of all the work you’ve put in and how much you’ve grown thus far.
I recently was listening to a podcast where the guest was recounting a very interesting approach her personal trainer took during one of her sessions. They had been working together for a while, and out of the blue her trainer decided that for that day’s session they would use the weight amounts from her very first session. She crushed it – with ease – something she initially struggled with on that first day.
That reminder of where she is now compared to where she was at the start helped open her mind up to how much progress she made, remind her how far she had come, and gave her a massive boost of motivation to keep on putting in the hard work!
Build momentum and focus while blocking out the noise
Seeing progress and movement in the direction you want to go is addicting and motivating!
I remember the first time I attempted a bench press in high school. Freshman year in the varsity weight room surrounded by what at the time looked like a room full of man-beasts… I put up 75 pounds. Bah!
Thankfully, even back then, I realized it was my starting point, and knew I could only go up from there. I eventually broke that 100 pound threshold, then 135 (the first time you throw a 45 pound plate on each side – very satisfying feeling), and by the end of my senior year, I put up 300.
Every time I hit a goal, it increased my motivation and momentum towards my brand new goal. However if you don’t remember where you started, and only see the people around you doing more, that motivation and drive risk being replaced by embarrassment or a blow to your self-esteem. Don’t let that happen.
Regardless of other people success, by keeping your head down and tracking progress towards your own goals, you know you are chipping away and one step closer towards your breakthroughs and your successes.
Set your goals, measure your progress regardless of those around you, and build that momentum. Without those measurements, you may begin to listen to your gut or the distractions of other people’s results and choose to give up even though you were inches from your goal line.
Reaffirms that thing are going well or raises an alarm for course correction
Continually measuring gives you a great barometer on how things are going. It will help you know if you are on track and going in the right direction, or give you early warning signs that something isn’t quite right.
For instance, if you are tracking towards a weight loss goal or working up to a new bench press personal record, you would have a weekly or monthly trend of weight lost or increase in bench press respectively.
While tracking, you may start to see that trend begin to slow down. By measuring, you can keep an eye on the situation you can begin digging into what might be going on and determine if you have to shake things up with your diet or change your strategy in the gym.
Having the measurements allows you to see when things started changing, and gives you a massive head start towards figuring out why and how to fix it.
The Road Ahead
There are numerous benefits to measuring progress towards anything you choose to do in life, and I have no doubt that if you begin incorporating measurements and tracking progress for yourself that you will see real benefits and improvements at home, at work and in your community.
“What gets measured gets done.” Let’s start measuring and go get it done!
Discussion Question: What are 1-2 measures that you can start tracking today to begin gauging your progress towards your goals?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."