I know a guy who is a fitness fanatic. He lifts weights every day for more than an hour, does sprints for twenty minutes, is a serious downhill skier and golfer, and has maintained roughly the same weight for about 6 decades. That’s right. He’s 85. (He also happens to be at the top of his game in his career, too.)
I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty about your gym attendance or that desert you ate last night. What’s important about his story is the one thing he has done every day for forty years. He gets up, weighs himself, and writes his weight in the corner of the bathroom mirror with a red dry erase marker.
That number—easily measured—gives him an idea that what he’s doing is working, or not. If it’s trending up or down, it tells him he needs to adjust his diet or his workouts to get back on track.
In Serial Winner, I wrote about the importance of measurement. With measurement, you know the truth of what’s happening. Without measurement, you’re just guessing.
Measurement is the simplest way to remove the guesswork from anything. The next obvious question is, What do you measure? Just two things.If you want to predict your future success, measure your activity and results. Click To Tweet
To make your success more predictable, you have to track a measurable result—what you want to happen—and track the main measurable activity that will produce the result—what you have to do to make it happen. Results can be obvious: sales, profit, your weight, how many subscribers you have on YouTube. These are all measures of the results of past effort. But measurable results aren’t always so clear. And measureable activity can be even trickier.
In this post, part 1, I’ll cover the essentials of setting specific, measureable goals for results and activity. In part 2, I’ll offer a method for figuring out what activity to measure and cover the critical topic of tracking these measures over time.
You have to figure out a specific measure of success for every goal in your life. Every single goal-setting expert will tell you this. Brain scientists will tell you this. You need something specific to direct your effort and to allow you to measure your progress. It’s how you stay engaged.
You also have to have a specific target for the amount of activity you need to put in daily, weekly, or monthly to achieve your specific goal. I call these short-term activity goals. And they also need to be specific. Sales people know all about activity goals. The best know how many customers they need to meet with based on their average close rate to hit their monthly or quarterly numbers.
Let’s say you want to lose a little weight. Your goal should not be, “Lose a little weight.” It’s meaningless, unspecific, and unmotivating. Instead, your goal should be, “Lose 8 pounds.” And you don’t get there by saying, “I’m going to eat better and go to the gym.” Instead, you come up with a specific plan with measurable activity that you are convinced will get the job done. For example, you say, “I’m going to have a healthy salad every day for lunch and I’m going to go to the gym 3 times a week.” Specific. Measurable. Achievable. (This is SMART Goals 101.) And if you find you aren’t getting the results as fast as you want, you simply make an adjustment.
It’s simply not true. You might be saying, “But my goal is to be happier or more satisfied in life.” Great. When you say that, what you really mean is something specific. Maybe you want to grow your career to do some specific kind of work that’s more satisfying or earn a specific level of income. Maybe you want to increase the time you spend with friends and family by a specific number of hours every week. Maybe you want to increase your impact in your community by taking specific action to contribute (community service, running for local office, etc.).
If you dig in and think about what you are really trying to achieve, you will always find a specific measure of success and specific measurable activity to produce it.
Bottom line: For everything you want in life, figure out a measureable result and a measurable activity target. It you don’t, you won’t have the focus and direction you need to get it.