How Well Do You Know Your Numbers?

In the fall of 2014, I was visiting our daughter, Hannah, who was living in  Alexandria, VA at the time. I was enjoying a Saturday morning run in a beautifully landscaped recreational area when I came across the following sign: “Four Mile Run Trail: Mile 5”.

“Hmm. Who came up with that one?” I thought to myself. “Clearly someone who doesn’t know their numbers…”

I recalled this last month when my other daughter, Noelle, gave me a Fitbit. If you’re not familiar,  you put a Fitbit on your wrist, and it continually monitors your heart rate, sleep patterns, exercise activity, calories burned, and so on.

It was a curiosity at first. I checked it every so often, amused by the data–but certainly not absorbed by it. After a few days passed, I realized I  was becoming increasingly aware of certain metrics: I was counting calories, monitoring the number of hours I slept each night, and tracking how many steps I took each day. In the process, I started to understand why I couldn’t seem to shed the extra 5 pounds I’d been carrying around for the past few months. And why I felt fatigued a lot of the time. And so on.

It’s amazing what you learn when you know your numbers!

And that’s just from wearing a Fitbit — the new Apple Watch apparently carries this to a whole new level (That’s Noelle in the picture with her new Apple Watch, by the way)

The question is, how well do you know your numbers? Do you even want to know your numbers?

Numbers can be demanding. They tell you where you are right now, contrast it with where you’d rather be in life, and bring into focus what should be done to effect the desired changes. Therein lies the hard part. Life, it seems, is full enough of it’s own demands. We’re already ‘shoulding’ all over ourselves, it seems, without adding more to our “to do” lists.

It’s the information age–there’s information all around us! But then there’s important information; the stuff we really should be paying attention to. Maybe counting calories or how much sleep you’re getting isn’t important to you right now. But what numbers are important? Are you paying attention to them? Without an awareness of those numbers, you can only have a fuzzy notion of how you’re doing, and where you’re really headed.

It’s one thing to say to yourself “I should lose some weight”, but then quite another to identify how many calories are in a cookie, how many you have to cut out of your diet, plus how many extra steps you have to add to your daily routine over the next week …. all just to lose just one pound!

Sometimes we’re afraid to find out what our numbers are. We see this in our office all the time when taxpayers bring in a half dozen letters they’ve received from the IRS–but were too afraid to even break the seal on the envelopes! They’re so overwhelmed by their fears that they don’t even open the envelope to see what the problem is. Which makes it impossible to move forward to the next step. Which in this case would be to find out what kind of fresh start programs are available to them which can help resolve their tax matter.

Anchor on This: Some people are achievers. Others simply dream of having a better life. Would you say you’re intentional and focused in your actions …or is your life today more a case of drifting along, checking off the days on the calendar, but without making any measurable progress? A a former boss was fond of saying, “You can’t grow what you don’t know!” You will make more progress, overcome obstacles, and achieve what you want faster in life when you get clear on your objectives, and then track your progress by making the commitment to know your numbers.



Posted in Small Business Success Blog.

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