Monday, January 11, 2016

I manage what I measure.

There seem to be several themes threading through different areas of my life, and this is certainly one of them.  It's come up multiple times, most recently in Rueben's book Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.

It's true.  And I've decided to use it intentionally in a few areas of my life.


I don't have resolutions, they don't work for me. But I've written a lot lately about my goals. In order to achieve my goals I must be able to measure them.  Not everything I want to do is easily measured, so I come up with proxy goals to support my values. My goals graph a bit like this:

Value:                             Goal

Be health                         ------------->   Self propel 500 miles
Engage my brain             ------------->   Read 50 books
Have a strong marriage  -------------->  Plan at least one date night per month

I can manage what I can measure.  I can measure a 4 mile walk, a 2 mile run, a 10 mile hike, etc.  There are obviously mulitple metrics for measuring health, but this year I chose to focus on physical activity.  Same with engaging my brain, and my marriage.  For me, taking the time to sit down and set goals make a tremendous difference in promoting my values in my life.


Most people I've talked to with a succesful budget know you have to measure to make any changes in your budget.  Aribrary setting a budget "We will spend no more than 60 dollars eating out" is way less sucessful than first measuring how much you actually spend eating out.  I've been managing my budget this way for years.  Our budget isn't a limit, but a guide and each year, we sit down and look at how much we budgeted compared to how much we spent and make applicaple adjustments. In looking at last years budget, we realized that the less we engaged with it, the less intentional we were with our money and decisions.  So this year we came up with a new system to help us both better monitor our money.


It seems like I can't write, say or think anything lately without it somehow coming back to the Marie Kondo's books.  (I recently finished her second book, 
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up days after it's release!)  It mind sound crazy to measure your belonings, but I really believe that for me that is why Kondo's method was so effective.  By collecing all of my clothes, books, tools, etc I had to measure how much I had.  Did our family need 5 tape measures?  7 pitchers?  a hundred pair of baby socks?  For me, the answer was no.  And I realized that by scattering my belongs, but NOT measuring them I had lost the ability to manage them.  I chose to keep extra hair brushes around instead of managing where I put my hair brush and made a thousand other small decisions that made my life less managable.

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