Woke this morning contemplating how important measuring progress is. We do it in our jobs, as measurement help validate our investments of time and money. We establish milestones for projects, but it is the measurable results that actually get us compensation. Establishing a measure is the real point of negotiation between two parties. Once the measure is agreed upon, the rest is a matter of formality. Perhaps the best evidence that measures are important and necessary, is what happens when there is a lack of them. If you are not measuring progress, then what haphazard path are you following then? Applying measures to our personal life can seem a bit clinical, perhaps we would think that I do not want my life to be that regimented. I suppose there is some truth to that – truth if all I wanted to do was exist. If I want to achieve, get better, excel, perform better then I need a measure to guide my ambition. Establish measures and write down the results – probably the best advice I have ever received.
So today marks the 350 day mark for my daily “health” commitment. The concept of creating a measure was on my mind when I formed this habit, and for lack of a more sophisticated plan, I just set a plan for 365 days in a row and started counting. So I wake up every morning at 5am, I run, I do +1 pushup, situp, and squat (yes, I did 350 this morning and it SUCKED). Anyway, everyday I write down in my notebook that I achieved the next consecutive day. Today felt great to write the number 350 down. There are better measures then consecutive days. Certainly you probably can come up with some sophisticated metrics to evaluate your life – but I will tell you this. In my experience those measures need to be simple easy to follow and not complicated to track.
I have gotten better at this. On some things I am not tracking consecutive, I evaluate other things – but my fall back plan is always the number of consecutive days. That seems to work for basic habit forming. My marathon preparation is a weekly metric that I track and report to my coach. That is more complicated, but an enjoyable part of my Sunday morning – sending my report into my coach. The point is that measures are a very critical part of your motivation to keep going. We love to see success, and if you can figure out a way to come up with small rewards along the way, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. However, do not get to excited – because in the back of my mind I know that tomorrow morning, I am writing down 351.
So I know some of you are rolling your eyes at my approach. Perhaps you are the type of person that get off the edge of the bed and just go every morning, a burst of energy and enthusiasm – always striving for greatness. Well, I am not. I am by nature a lazy, unmotivated, slouch and I need all the encouragement I can get. I need things to keep me going and those things cannot be to complicated because they create an excuse for me that I will use to avoid hard work. So I sit on the edge of the bed staring at a spot on the wall, with my primal mind screaming at me to go back to bed, and I just say to myself. Ok, Guy 350 is not going to happen sitting here. Get up, and just do it. You will be done in a few hours and you can check another day off.
So I have my measures, simple as they are. I track my forward progress now and as I gain more confidence my way of measuring success also gains sophistication. Having said all of this, none of this is an excuse. You should not delay your commitment until that day when you create a perfect system for measuring progress. You should go and do, the perfect way to determine success will come to you eventually. Funny thing about success – it is easier to spot when you are achieving it.
Guy Reams (400)
113 Days Left to 1st Marathon