You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure…

measuring progressEarlier in my career, I spent many years working for a major media company founded by a gifted entrepreneur named Stephen Strang. I learned many things in my time working with Steve, but one phrase that he often said that I picked up was this; “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” I don’t know whether Steve invented that phrase or if he picked it up from someone else. All I know is that the phrase stuck with me.

In life, we all want to get better. We want to think better, do better, BE better. But how do you do that? One of the simple things you can do is to set goals for yourself. But all too often, the goals we set for ourselves are nebulous, vague, and ultimately not measurable. We say things like; ‘I want to be the best person I can be.’, ‘I want to lose a lot of weight’ or ‘I want to improve my sales.’. Great – but if you can’t state your goals in quantifiable, measurable ways, how will you know if you achieved them?

Listen, nobody particularly likes to be held accountable. But the people who get ahead in life are the ones who are willing to do just that. They push themselves. And in pushing themselves, they break their goals into measurable objectives. Why? Because you can’t manage, what you can’t measure – and what you monitor and measure, naturally tends to improve. Even if you fail to meet your stated goal, you will likely move in the right direction. So make your goals measurable:

  • ‘I want to lose 5 pounds in the next 30 days by limiting my calorie intake to 3,000 per day six days a week and exercising for 30 minutes at least four times a week.’
  • I want to commit to saying at least ten positive things to at least three people every day for seven weeks until it becomes a habit.’
  • ‘I’m going to make at least 40 outbound calls a day at least four days of the workweek and send out ten new proposals a week for the next 30 days.”

See? Each of these later statements is measurable, and they are clear and specific enough to know whether or not you achieve them. That’s accountability, and it’s a vital practice to master.

So pay attention to the statements, goals, and objectives you make. Are they achievable? Are they measurable? Are they worth doing? (Yes, we sometimes set goals for ourselves that are not particularly beneficial, but they make us feel good about achieving something. That’s OK, and it’s really up to you how hard and how often you push yourself. But when you do, make sure that your goals are measurable so you can celebrate when you achieve them!

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