I recently purchased an inexpensive pedometer. I have been curious for years how many steps I take each day. Am I really as active as I think or fooling myself? Also, being active is important to good health, so I really want to know how active I am and, regardless of where I am, I want to improve. This is also true for other aspects of my life – I wan to improve. A person I greatly respect told me, “When progress is measured, progress improves.” I know measuring progress is not usually convenient, and in many cases really difficult to do, but I firmly believe that if I really want something that I need to work for, I need to find a way to measure my progress and make the effort to measure it.
My wife has had a few pedometers in the past and found that with a little work she could reach 10000 steps in a day. From this, I was guessing that I do about 7000 – 8000 steps a day and it would not be difficult to get to 10000 steps. Well, after wearing the pedometer for a few weeks, I found that I average between 7000 – 8000 steps, if I make an effort to take a little walk during the day. If I have a really active day, I can go well beyond 10000, but it takes more activity than I thought it would. If I make no effort to be active, I can be around 4000-5000 steps.
The actual number of steps and the actual distance do not matter to me. The important thing is to make an extra effort to get a few more steps in. Now, I take the long way to a meeting. I do an extra lap through the hallways as I wait for people to get out of a meeting so I can go start my meeting instead of just standing there. I take a short walk outside during a break instead of just sitting on a bench. I walk to church instead of driving. So for me, the measurement of my steps really has helped me to improve my activity level. I plan to continue to do these little things to get my activity level up, while also working on ways to make significant improvements in my activity, such as more biking, jogging, long walks, hiking, etc.
Think about how many things we measure in an attempt to improve ourselves. Some measure calories of food consumed, running or biking times, pounds lifted, height jumped, scores achieved, grade point averages, even money earned. On the opposite end, think of the important things we have difficulty measuring and thus have a more difficult time improving in: kindness, charity, humility, reliability, spirituality. Now, I am not saying we should or should not measure these things. I am just saying that if we could measure them, we might be a lot better at them.
As a personal example, I want to better understand myself. I want to evaluate my life and learn what I can learn from my experiences. I want to be a better person. How do I do this? There are so many ways, but one thing that has helped me is this blog, where I analyze and write about my life journey. One thing I can measure is how many posts I write or how often I write them. I had a goal to reach 100 posts in two years. I would have done it, if not for some health issues. After I reached my goal, I had a more vague goal to keep writing and my posting frequency has dropped significantly. I could say that I have now decided to focus my energies in other areas that need improvement, which is true, but I still could be writing. I think regardless of what my writing goal is, I should have a definite and measurable goal. Otherwise, I kind of just drift around in my writing.
In summary, measuring progress really works for me. I’m not sure it works for all personality types, I don’t even know what my personality type is, but it works. I need to decide what I want to work on, for how long, and what I intend to do (MEASURABLE) in that time.