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Metrics, Awareness, And Goal Attainment

by David Brock on November 17th, 2012

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you know my obsession with metrics.  I measure everything I do, whether it’s work, professional, or personal.  I’ve written about how I measure my performance on my bike rides in What We Miss About Sales Metrics. 

I’ve gone another step in my obsession.  I’ve recently gotten a clever device called a Fitbit One (yes, I’m really a gadget freak).  While the folks at Fitbit may be appalled with this description, it’s basically a pedometer on steroids.  It tracks how many steps I’ve taken, how many sets of stairs I’ve climbed, how far I ‘ve walked, how many calories I’ve burned.  Somehow, it also tracks the quality of my sleep–last night I was in bed for 5 hours and 49 minutes and my sleep was 92% efficient  (I’m clueless about how they do this, but the sleep report is really cool!).    The accompanying web app also lets me track what I eat.  So everyday, I get a report about my activity levels, calories consumed, calories burned, and so forth.

I’m fascinated by what I’m discovering.  More importantly, I’m fascinated by how my behaviors are changing.  See the interesting thing about all these metrics is they make me aware of my performance.  Before using these devices, I had goals to improve my fitness levels and to watch what I eat.  I’ve always been able to exercise and eat pretty well, but until I started measuring things, I was just well intended in achieving my fitness and health goals.  But now, I know where I’m at in achieving my goals, and I can take actions to make sure I attain them.

All of us have goals–personal and job related goals.  Much of the time, we are well intended in wanting to achieve the goals.  We try hard.  For example we go to the gym and work out, go for a bike ride, eat carefully.  On the job, we do everything we can to achieve our goals, whether it’s quota or something else.  But too often, we don’t have the metrics that enable us to understand where we are in the attainment of our goals.  We aren’t able to make informed decisions or tak action to assure we achieve our goals.  In the absence of metrics, we become well intended, but not purposeful.

The real value of tracking our performance against some key metrics is they make us aware.  As a result, we know where we are and we can make decisions and take action to make sure we achieve our goals.  For example, tonight we’re going out for dinner.  I know it will be a big dinner and I’ll blow my calorie budget for the day.  This awareness allows me to take actions to make sure I’m not diverted from my goal.  Anticipating the big dinner, I’ve decided to add about another forty minutes to the bike ride I’m taking just after I publish this blog post.  I’ve also decided I’ll take a more difficult route, that way I can burn more than enough calories to really “pig out” tonight.

I’m very goal directed.  However, without the awareness the metrics provide, I can only be well intended.  Making my goals will be a bit of a hit or miss effort.  I would certainly try hard, but absent the metrics and the awareness they create, I couldn’t make the decisions and take the actions critical to assuring I achieve my goals.

If you are serious about your goals–personal or business, then you have to track your performance.  It’s the only way you know where you are.  It’s the only way you can develop and execute strategies to make sure you achieve your goals.

Do you know your goals?  Do you know the metrics critical to showing progress in achieving your goals?  Are you leveraging them to more effectively make sure you get what you want?

OK, I’m off, looking forward to the ride–roughly 55 miles, 4700 feet of climbing/descending.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.  On top of that, I know I can really look forward to an awesome dinner tonight!


Disclosure:  No connection to Fitbit, just a new, enthusiastic customer.

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