If you spend any time in Corporate America you’ll hear this phrase over and over: “What gets measured gets done.” The reality in today’s metric-crazed business climate is that you have to measure things or people won’t do them. Lots of sad truth to that.
Often it’s just about focus. Most people are assigned more work than they can finish, so they make sure they finish the things that are going to show up on some muckity muck’s scorecard. Everyone knows that when a muckity gets a bad score, someone has to pay. And since, as they say, sh*t flows downhill, it’s probably going to be you. So you make damn sure you get those visible, measured and punishable things done, stat, above all else.
But this same dreadful principle that sucks in business, can help you win big with your personal goals. You won’t have to worry about being punished, either. Because when you measure and get things done for you, you’re the big winner, not some glad-handing, credit-stealing, kiss-up kick-down Vice President.
Here’s how it works. For every activity or behavior you need to perform to reach a certain goal, you measure your daily results. Did I do that today? If so you succeed. One point for you. If not, you get a zero and have to ask yourself why? Did I forget, did I try and fail, or did I just not care enough to make the effort?
So you create a list of no more than a dozen daily activities you want to perform, behaviors if added up over time will lead to achieving your goals. Then you rate yourself on each one, every single day. Shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes at night before you go to bed. Then you review why these tasks are important, give yourself credit for what you did do, and resolve to do better the next day for the things you didn’t.
After a while you’ll build some momentum around this, and find that your brain will remind you throughout the day that you still need to do something to earn a point. I know this sounds silly, but this is where it gets exciting. The mere act of measuring your daily behavior will cause your behavior to improve. When that happens you get better results, you feel good about yourself, and you start having fun. You start winning your life one day at a time.
With this as a guide I started a friendly competition with a good friend. It brought us closer together and it worked really well. We pushed each other and accomplished more in those three months that we had in the previous six.
So now I start off every year with this and continue for at least the first quarter. I have a simple spreadsheet and just before bed I update it. When I score well I feel good and encourage myself to keep it up. When I don’t, I revisit the goal and ask myself whether or not I really want it. If I convince myself it’s worth pursuing and I have the desire, then I look at the way I broke down the tasks. Maybe I didn’t set myself up for success. Maybe something needs to be tweaked. I adjust and re-evaluate as I go.
This year I’ve recruited two new friends and we’re working this together. I’ve updated my spreadsheet with the activities I need to perform each day to achieve my goals for 2016. If you’d like, I’ll send you a copy. Then maybe next year we can do it together too.
Because in the end I know one fundamental truth: If I don’t measure my progress, I probably won’t make very much…