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Reason with me...

Someone enters the gym, warms up, does a little bit of this exercise, a little bit of that exercise, bounces about to a few machines, maybe gets on the treadmill, completes their session, and exits.

This isn't meant to be a criticism of their workout. Indeed, it's probable that they got in a good workout. So, what makes this situation noteworthy?

They didn't take any measurements. They didn't keep track of their exercise. They didn't keep track of reps, weight, time, speed, or any other measure. As a result, they have no way of understanding whether or not they are progressing. One of the six major mistakes I see individuals make in the gym is not keeping track of their progress.

But here's the thing: we all have aspects of our lives that we claim are essential to us, but we don't track.

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We improve what we measure.
Count something. Regardless of what one ultimately does in medicine—or outside of medicine, for that matter—one should be a scientist in this world. In the simplest terms, this means one should count something. … It doesn't really matter what you count. You don't need a research grant. The only requirement is that what you count should be interesting to you.
—Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

The things we track are the things we work on improving. We can only tell if we're improving or worse based on numbers and precise tracking.

I got stronger when I counted how many sit ups I completed.
I read more books after tracking my daily reading habit of 18 pages.
How we choose to spend our time and energy each day shapes our lives. Measuring our time can help us spend it more effectively and regularly.

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It's Not About the Outcome, It's About Being Aware
The key is to understand that counting, measuring, and tracking aren't about getting a specific result. It's all about the process, not the end result.

Measure from a position of intrigue. Measure in order to learn, discover, and comprehend.

Measure yourself from a position of self-awareness. Measure to obtain a deeper understanding of oneself.

To see if you're showing up, take a measurement. Check to determine if you're spending enough time on the things that matter to you. (Make sure you're measuring backwards rather than forwards.)

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It's impossible to measure everything.
Critics will quickly point out that it is impossible to measure everything. This is correct.

Love is essential, but how do you quantify it?
Morality is vital, but can it be accurately quantified?
It's critical to find significance in our life, but how do you calculate it?
In addition, there are some things in life that do not require measurement. Some people enjoy exercising simply for the sake of exercising. Measuring each repetition may lessen satisfaction and make it appear more like work. That is perfectly OK. (As always, take the core principle and apply it in the most effective method for you.)

Measurement alone will not fix all of your problems. It isn't the final word on life. It is, however, a means of keeping track of something crucial: are you showing up in the areas that you claim are essential to you?

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The Concept in Action
Measuring can be useful even for things that can't be measured. It also does not have to be difficult or time-consuming.

You can't quantify love, but you can keep note of the numerous ways you show up for love in your life:

Each morning, write down three values that are important to you.
Keep a decision notebook to keep track of your decisions and whether or not they are ethical.
The things we track are the things we work on improving. What do you use as a yardstick in your life?

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