To reach your full potential, it’s important that you improve different aspects of your life. But that, unfortunately, is easier said than done. You might say that you want to improve something. But actually improving it is a different story.
So how can we solve this problem?
I have found a principle that can be useful here. It came from Peter Drucker and was originally intended to improve business performance. But I have found that it’s also useful for personal effectiveness. The principle is this:
What gets measured, gets managed.
In my opinion, this principle is simple but powerful. Do you want to improve something? Then start measuring it.
Why It Works
Here are four reasons why this principle works.
1. It reminds you of what’s important. Whenever you see the number of what you are measuring, you will be reminded that it’s important. You might be busy with other things, but seeing the number will remind you that this deserves your attention.
2. It helps you see your position. Because it’s measured, you will know exactly where you are. You can’t have the illusion that you are doing well when you are not. The numbers will tell you the truth.
3. It helps you see your progress. When you start working to improve your life, the numbers will help you see your progress. You can see how far you have gone. This will help you stay motivated.
4. It helps you set goals. Because it’s measured, you can set specific goals. You know what you are aiming for and whether you have achieved it. This will help you focus your effort.
How to Apply It
Having looked at the why, let’s now look at how to apply the principle. Here are some tips.
1. Track just a few things.
Don’t track too many things at once, especially at the beginning. If you do, you will be spreading yourself too thin. Instead, start with just one or two that are most important to you. Ask yourself, “Of all the options, which one would make the most difference in my life?” Then start measuring that.
2. Make it simple.
The metric shouldn’t be complicated. Instead, make it as simple as possible. For instance, you could just put 1 when you do something or 0 when you don’t. Or put the number of times you do something (e.g. drinking a glass of water). The simpler the measurement is, the more likely you will stick with it in the long run.
3. Make it visible.
You need to keep reminding yourself of what you are measuring. So make your “scoreboard” visible. In my case, I put it in my daily bookmarks that I open every morning in my browser.
4. Adjust it over time.
Over time, you can measure new things or change the way you measure something (e.g. by breaking it down into its components). Just do what is necessary to better improve your life.
To improve a part of your life, measure it. That’s how you focus your effort and make progress.
Any thoughts? Fill free to share them in the comments.