So it’s been just over a week, you’ve been strong with your goal, you’ve been consistent with your habits and you’re feeling really good about yourself, but then you look at the numbers, and what?! No change?! The obvious thing to do would be to go and feel bad about yourself in the corner, and in the worst case scenario say that what you’re doing doesn’t work and give up completely! But say you do carry on, and next week the number has sky rocketed (or plummeted, depending on what it is)!
Being a number-freak is a universally bad habit, you may be addicted to checking your weight on the weighing scale, the traffic on Google Analytics or the balance of your bank account. When it comes to this type of thing, I’ve been awful. Although there are some things that I can discipline myself with, say weighing myself, there are others like checking website traffic where I often fall prey.
The first thing to note is that any change is rarely short-term, a week is hardly ever enough time to judge change, neither is 2 weeks. If you’re like the person I described in the beginning who expects immediate change or gives up otherwise, you may just need to take a break from riding the emotional roller-coaster. It screws around with you in more ways than it helps you, it can stress you out or worse - annihilate your inner-drive to continue.
Numbers and metrics are necessary to measure success; how many sales did you make? How much weight did you lose? How far did you run? How many words did you write? And so on. That makes them incredibly hard to avoid (I wouldn’t recommend it either, when used correctly they’re very useful), but it’s important to remember that there are other measures to take in to account as well, and one set of numbers can change dramatically over a period of time.
How They Ruin Me
Like I said, I often fall prey to checking website traffic, but that’s just one thing, here are a few others how numbers haven’t served me well:
In the past I’ve measured things that have exceeded my expectations, such as a test result or website traffic, and that’s wonderful. That gave me the subconscious go-ahead to relax. Wrong move. Next test? I flopped, and so on. This is only one side of the coin, I’ll explain the other in a moment.
The biggest one here for me is website statistics, I’ve often just looked at one measure which looked pleasing and avoided the rest, namely the important ones. When it comes to this kind of statistic, it’s easy to just look at visitors or ‘hits’ (an unreliable measure), but what about the important ones like average page-views or comments?
Similarly with a topic like finance, the most tempting metric to look at may be your daily income, but at what price? Are you working more hours per day? Are you more stressed? The list goes on.
Some numbers work well together, like page-views and bounce rate, but then there are the conflicting ones such as body weight and lifting capacity. If you’re hoping to lift more and subsequently gain more muscle while seeing your body weight drop, you may just be in for a surprise. This hasn’t been so much of a problem for me, but I thought I’d throw it in there because it’s important to point out.
How To Get Inspired
When used correctly, numbers can be the inspiration you need to continue going in the pursuit of your goal. The same number can mean different things to different people, depending on their vision and aspirations.
This is the other side of the complacency coin. When you see a number that’s beyond your belief, it can either relax you – or give you that extra drive to continue. Over time I’ve transformed my thinking so that I follow the latter path, it’s gotten me out of that stop-start rhythm which is a killer of success, I believe the best thing you could do is to not fall into that complacency trap and keep on powering forward.
The Prospect Of Results
I think this is what creates all those ‘overnight successes’ and ‘instant millionaires’, the fact that they stayed consistent. The numbers may have been poor, they may have been unknown, they had nothing to show for their work which lead to others mocking them, but the vision in the back of their mind that someday they’d hit the jackpot kept them going.
When I started out on the road to success, the numbers weren’t favourable, and I’m sure to some people they’d be quite disappointing. But I know that they’re not great now, but what I also know is that if I stick it out – I’ll bump into some incredible results.
The take-away here is that the numbers may not be to your liking, in fact they might de-motivate anyone without the vision, but if you stick with it through toil and trouble, you’re guaranteed success.
It’s important to know why you’re getting the numbers you’ve got. What are you doing to produce those results? If I see a sudden spike in traffic, it may be sheer luck, or I may have actually written something decent for once. Of course you need to filter out the fluff, but what core habits are you doing to see the results you’re getting?
Summary Of How To Use Numbers
We’ve covered a lot of ground, so here’s a 3 step summary on how to use numbers:
- Use the right number – Again, it’s obvious, but you don’t want to create a false sense of reality, take it how it is. Also, remember to use the same number, don’t intermix irrelevant statistics.
- Take averages – I didn’t cover this before, but taking averages is vital to see progress. The average is the one metric that should always be increasing, even if daily measures fluctuate like the stock-market.
- Track the trends – See where they’re high or low, and why is that? Are you doing specific things that cause them to sky-rocket or plummet?
Numbers are certainly not the whole story, the whole story is anything that shows you’re on the right track, and that may not always be a number.
Taking a look at the numbers every now and again can definitely help with your motivation, and they’re great reassurance that you’re on track, but remember this: Your journey to unimaginable success is a marathon, not a sprint.
Are you one of those who lets the numbers inspire you or ruin you? Do you use them wisely and let them motivate you, or maybe you look at irrelevant measures which get you down? Let me know!