Why are we always measuring things?
Maybe it’s a survival mechanism when we’re kids.
Other kids getting more food and attention = DEATH!
So as a child, if you see someone with an ice cream cone, the little cave baby inside you starts yelling for one too.
But as adults, we want to be civilized men, not primitive babies. Letting our measuring instincts rule us can really lead us down a dark path.
For instance, Moldova is one of the most unhappy countries in the world. The average Moldovan makes far more money than most people in Africa—but Moldova's in Europe, surrounded by richer countries. Moldovans are unhappy because they measure themselves against their neighbors.
So today, I want to talk about some things that you shouldn’t be measuring if you want to be happy, and some things that you should.
This informative article was brought to you by Beautyrest Sleeptracker. I’ve been using their product for the past month or so to track sleep patterns, and it’s changed the way I think about sleep forever.
#1: Stop Measuring Your Income
I know it’s a pride thing and it’s important to us, but instead look at: where is your money going?
I’m all for earning more money. But even if you’re making $24K, make sure that you track where all of that money is going.
Fix your mistakes while you're earning a little, or you'll amplify them when you start earning a lot.
When you account for where everything’s going, you can start saving—whether it's for your education, your kids' education, or your retirement.
Studies show that once you get past a certain point, more money doesn't buy more happiness. In the US, that point is about $70,000 a year. So make sure that you’re tracking where everything’s going, not that you’re making 100 grand and you don’t even know where that money’s gone.
#2: Stop Measuring Your Weight
Weight is important, but it's meaningless by itself. Your bathroom scale can't tell you how you look or how healthy you are. Instead, you need to measure your body.
A quick example: my wife just shared a victory. She lost 3 pounds over the last 6 weeks—but by measuring her body, she learned that she'd dropped 6 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of muscle. It shows, too—she looks great!
Here are some smarter ways to track your fitness progress:
- Track what you're eating.
- Track your exercise. Focus on 1% improvements – to get stronger, you need to be lifting one more pound or doing one more rep every week.
- Take regular photos of yourself, in the same clothes and lighting at the same time of day.
- Measure yourself at these points (great for clothing as well!)
Shoulders (at the widest point, with your arms by your sides)
Chest (lift up your arms, wrap the tape measure around your chest just above the nipple, and then lower your arms)
Bicep (same spot on the same arm each week)
Waist (at the belly button)
Hips (at the widest part)
Thigh (same spot on the same thigh each week)
Another positive way to track and improve your health is to track your sleep. Check out my sleep chart. It shows you the different stages of my sleep over one random night.
You can see that I have most of my deep sleep in the first half of the night. This is when your brain switches off to recharge. Then after I woke up at 2 am (probably to put one of my kids on the potty) I started having light sleep and REM sleep. This is when you dream—your brain's way of regulating your memories and emotions.
I became a sleep geek over the last month because of the paid sponsor of this video—Beautyrest Sleeptracker. I never thought I would be this excited about sleep, and I’ll tell you why.
- The Beautyrest Sleeptracker gives me a closer look at the things keeping me up at night and offers personalized, easy-to-implement insights to help me make the most of my time asleep.
- The biggest pain point of wearables is that they must be worn on the body and charged regularly. Unlike wearables, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor is completely non-invasive and plugs directly into a wall outlet.
- Ever since I started using the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor, I have a stronger understanding of my daily habits that affect my sleep. By implementing simple changes to my routine, I find myself waking up ready to perform at my best.
- Provides a minute-by-minute snapshot of each sleep cycle: REM, light sleep and deep sleep.
- Integrates with Amazon Echo.
I think tracking your sleep is a very healthy habit. Go check out Beautyrest—highly recommended.
#3: Stop Measuring Your Work Hours
Another thing I think you shouldn’t be measuring or tracking, and honestly I think you shouldn’t be bragging about, are the ridiculous hours that you’re working.
You know those guys—‘Oh yeah, I work 70 hours a week, I work 80 hours a week, I work 100 hours a week.’ Come on. You can only effectively work about 35-40 hours a week. There’s only so much time that you can stay focused. Your attention is like a glass of water, and once you drink it you have to reset it. You have to rest.
Instead of measuring your work hours, how about measuring your progress on important projects? This can give you the kick you need to prioritize. It helps you focus on what you should truly be working on, instead of all the unimportant things screaming for your attention.
The easiest way to prioritize is to use the Priority Matrix. Two of the squares are very important.
One of them is the red one that says ‘Non-Important/Urgent.’ That is one of the most dangerous squares. That’s social media. That’s emails that keep screaming in your inbox. That’s having notifications on your phone that break up the flow of your workday.
You need to eliminate those unimportant things that are screaming at you. Cut that off and focus on the blue square – non-urgent but important things.
I say that because, yes, you need to do the things that are important and urgent, but it’s the non-urgent important things that matter most. Focus on your long-term projects and your self-development. Those things often become the urgent things because you don’t give them the time they deserve.
#4: Stop Measuring Your Social Media Status
How many friends have you got on Facebook? How many connections on LinkedIn? How many people share and comment on your Instagram photos?
I fall into this trap too. But at the end of the day, what you want to focus in on are real relationships. Measure how many true friends you have. Ask yourself these questions instead:
How many people would show up to your funeral? At 2 o’clock in the morning, how many people could you call who would drive 5 hours to support you in your time of need?
For a lot of us, unfortunately, I think that number has gone down—because you need to put in the time to make these relationships work every single day.
When I’m coming to and from the office, I try to call one person that I haven’t spoken to in a while, and ask about how they’re doing. Take an interest in their life. Get them on the phone, or build a trip around going to visit them. I did this, and it was one of the best experiences, spending time with people—many of whom were business acquaintances—who now became very close friends.
When you can mix what you do in your professional life with your personal life, and you can build these meaningful relationships, I think that's the best of both worlds.
I like to think that the measure of your success is the impact you have on the world with what you were given.
So start measuring the right things, and forget the ones that make you unhappy.