What Will You Measure Today?
Every day presents us each a host of choices, although they are often buried beneath a mountain of habits, tasks, errands, interruptions, and deadlines.
Just because each day’s choices may not be obvious doesn’t mean they’re not there. The pace of life is so caffeine-laced, that we tend to overlook a lot of important things.
Really successful people develop a discipline for regularly stepping back from the hustle bustle, reflecting on what’s important, and then setting and adjusting priorities. That includes focusing on choices about what’s worth measuring and what’s not.
Options about what to measure are almost limitless: we can measure our physical weight, the change in the value of our assets, the length of time we slept last night, the value of contracts we signed, the number of words we wrote, the return on our investment, calories burned at the gym, progress towards our KPIs at work, our waist size, and so on.
Very few people are in the habit of asking themselves each morning “What will I measure today? ” That’s a missed opportunity, like failing to look at the compass or GPS while navigating a vehicle.
Many people measure their own self-worth primarily based on external achievements, such as test scores, sales results, job appraisals, degrees earned, salary increases, etc.
I’m not saying these things are not important. They are very important in our studies and careers, but they are an incomplete framework for measuring overall success in life, or for maintaining self-esteem. We sometimes forget that self-confidence is like gasoline in the fuel tank. It requires topping up on a regular basis.
What about also measuring our self-worth by the kind of person we are, as demonstrated by the kindness and consideration we show to our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members? Did we surprise someone with unexpected kindness today? That’s cause for pause, and quiet celebration.
It’s easy to get overly focused on more tangible, objective metrics. Measuring kindness is fuzzy, relative, and not very scientific. That doesn’t mean we should exclude it from consideration when we think about what we’re going to measure in our daily lives.
We also tend to get swept up into measuring the wrong stuff and obsessing over it. So and so’s car, shoes, watch, house — whatever — is fancier or more expensive than mine. That ultimately leads us into a pursuit like the hamster running in place on his hamster wheel. Good exercise, but going nowhere meaningful.
Not all important choices are big, audacious ones. Lots of them are small, but they can still make a big difference.
For example, try this one: I’m going to be a better listener today. Or, I’m going to try to be more patient today. Or, I’m going to spend more one-on-one time with my loved ones today. Or, I’m going to consider that maybe my priorities today are not automatically the most important ones.
Small steps we take can have a big impact on the world around us , like the ripples made when you throw a stone into in the pond.
On the other hand, there are some things we cannot measure and shouldn’t bother trying.
One of them is love. True love defies measurement.
Another is grief. It is a mistake to think we can judge or compare our experience of grief to the grief of another person, for we can never penetrate that jungle or understand its depths. It’s best to just acknowledge and respect it.
In any case, it’s worth thinking carefully about what you’re going to measure tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that.
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