Befriending Measurements

By Jalene Case

I recently had a meeting with a colleague during which I was vigorously sharing my detailed analysis of 2019 and a clear plan for 2020. My colleague paused, starring at one number and said, “Wait. Did you say all of this is income going away?” I flippantly said, “Yes, but look at what I have planned!” Suddenly I saw that even though I had looked at the numbers, I hadn’t truly seen the one with the negative impact.

My enthusiastic nature leads me toward highlighting positive progress, and even hiding negative indicators so I won’t see them and feel like a failure. This is nice of my inner cheerleader but not helpful in the long run.

Tracking progress toward goals can evoke procrastination, trepidation, and down-right fear. If you aimed high, saw what you wanted to accomplish, and were excited about the possibilities, it can be hard to compare your ideal vision with the stark reality of what actually happened.

Yet your ability to see clearly is directly related to skills of self-awareness (the foundation of emotional intelligence) and self-leadership. How can you lead yourself in viewing measurements in a way that will help you accomplish what matters most?

Here are some ideas—using self-awareness and leadership—to design your own measurement and goal-achievement process.

Internal Dialog
If you’re prone to slipping into less-than-kind self-talk, prepare in advance. Remind yourself that the measurement reflects what you’re doing, not your worth as a person. Notice what you’re saying to yourself and be kind. What would you say to a friend facing a similar situation? Brené Brown reminds us, “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” What we say to ourselves internally can transform doom-and-gloom thinking into self-compassion that will energize us to take positive steps forward.

Before evaluating results, start by centering yourself with a breathing exercise. For example, use the four-square breathing technique. Count to four as you breathe in, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, and repeat a few times. When you look at the results you’re measuring, notice what you say to yourself internally. If needed, change your self-talk to be more helpful. Being kind to yourself takes practice and is crucial in self-awareness and leadership.

Perspective Shift
Write or think about the results from a perspective that’s meaningful for you. What’s important about the goal related to the measurement you’re tracking? How does it connect to your whole business or life? How does it align or not align with your values? Sometimes a tiny viewpoint variation makes a gigantic difference. According to Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Try it for yourself.

Feedforward Lantern
Think of measurements as feedback pointing the way to the future—feedforward. How is the measurement that you’re viewing helping you see what to do in the future? Imagine the measurement as a lantern shining the way forward on a path toward the future that you want to create. What is the measurement illuminating? Do you need to change directions? Do you need to continue on the same path for a while longer? Based on what you see, have the courage to choose the next step forward.

Habit Highlight
Is there a habit to start or stop that will help you do better? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says, “Habit formation is a long race. It often takes time for the desired results to appear. And while you are waiting for the long-term rewards of your efforts to accumulate, you need a reason to stick with it in the short-term. You need some immediate feedback that shows you are on the right path.” Measurements are that immediate feedback.

See It Your Way
How do you like to look at your measurements? I love using colored markers and big flip charts or whiteboards every chance I get. The colors make it more fun and writing helps connect me to the data. Upbeat music is the cherry on top! My last step in the analysis is now to say it out loud to another human for a reality check. How do you like to view what you’re tracking? Does it help to have a colleague to share with? Do you love Excel spreadsheets, tables, or mind maps? Consider trying a new method. Notice what works for you and do it.

By improving your skills in self-awareness and self-leadership, you notice what works best for you and then lead yourself forward. Measurements are your friend, your co-conspirator in accomplishing what matters most. How might you befriend measurements? I’d love to hear about your approach. Send me a note to