“What get measured gets managed.” — Peter Drucker
The beginning of a new year is a time where we all sit down and determine once and for all that we are going to change. We’ve failed our resolutions in years past, but not this time. Right?
If this describes your thought process, the odds are drastically against you. Most of us live our lives primarily through habit. Hundreds (actually more likely thousands) of little habits determine our moment by moment choices and ultimately our results in life.
Making permanent change usually requires a lot more than a simple new year’s declaration. And the key is becoming aware of the changes you want to make.
Enter the fun and exciting world of statistical measurement. Okay, even as a Math major I find the idea of stats and data completely boring. Or at least I DID find it boring until I read the quote at the beginning of this article.
The truth is, when you begin to measure anything, the simple act of observation will begin to impact the results.
In 2007 I was on a mission to change my life, build up the courage to quit my job and start my own business. This required a total re-engineering of my thought patters, beliefs and behaviours. Without knowing it at the time, I actually used precise measurement and analysis to drive my permanent lifestyle change.
For a period of 100+ days, I tracked almost every single activity I performed in a day. This included everything from work, to checking Facebook (back when nobody knew Facebook), to grocery shopping. What this allowed me to do was evaluate my actions and focus more time and energy on activities that ultimately moved me towards my goal of being an independent entrepreneur.
If I engaged in a goal-destroying activity (like watching TV instead of working on my new business), I had to write it down on my activity list. Of course, I didn’t want to write these destructive activities down so my “list” became my control mechanism. Instead of discipline and wishful thinking, I had a practical, tangible solution to changing my life.
In hindsight, I now realize that this simple system can be used to activate any change you want in your life. From losing weight to increasing productivity to improving relationships, measure the activities and instantly bring a new awareness that provokes positive change.
Your task. Go to the dollar store, buy a simple 3-subject notebook and begin tracking “some” data that is impacting your life. It could be a food/exercise journal, it could be a list of all “time wasters” that are hurting your success. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind and then track your improvements as you track your activities. The small changes in numbers will have a large impact on your life.