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8 Overlooked Life Metrics that Keep You from Success

How life metrics can benefit you.

What metrics does society really care about? To this day, most of our work goes to achieving more or less the same old American dream. You know, the house, the car, and a big backyard. Most people generally will ask you what you do or where you live. This makes sense, because it gives an idea of where you currently are in the American dream. What doesn’t make sense however, is if you go about your own American dream differently and people disapprove. There’s a dissonance between societal metrics and alternative roads to success. So how should you go about monitoring your life?

Metrics serve as a way to help measure what you do, like how well you or your team perform a specific task. Engineers work with metrics day in and day out. Many professions also benefit from metrics. Remember what it is that you are trying to monitor. The metric is just a tool. They help monitor how efficient a process is or the quality of a product.

But metrics can be deceiving. Everyone knows how to work around metrics. If the focus is to have good looking metrics and offer rewards (or consequences) as a result, then you can bet you’ll see some metrics that don’t reflect reality. This is why metrics need to be connected with a mission. Metrics shouldn’t be just one more thing employees do. Metrics should help guide your team in the right direction to prevent defects or to take action promptly.

Is our society measuring our lives correctly? How do you go about creating and measuring your metrics? And if metrics aren’t the end goal, how do you gain clarity of what your mission is? How you measure your life is most likely a reflection of what your family and your culture value. Of course, all these values are also affected by the global economy, the media, the movies you watch, etc. Chances are that if you don’t know how to measure your life, you’re probably measuring your life against society’s standards: cars, houses, exotic vacations, salary, job hierarchy, busyness, social media popularity, and gadgets you own.

These American dream metrics are not bad at all. This is not a rant about consumerism. For example, we need transportation, and who doesn’t like nicer vehicles? This is about recognizing the kind of metrics that truly benefit you. Life metrics should let you know if you’re on the right track. They’re definitely not about perfection. Everyone works within their own time frame. But perhaps you should think about which results you would be proud of, and which of society’s metrics you’d never thought to challenge, and that you may want to go about differently.

Consider the following overlooked life metrics. Think about how you can strike a balance and integrate them in your life:

1. Busy to Value.

Is being busy the same as adding value? You can be very busy and yet be disconnected with how your work directly affects the end product or service. Especially in the corporate world, you can be very busy going from meeting to meeting. Value is always connected to the customer, and it’s always about helping others.

2. Paycheck to Wealth.

How many conversations do you have about your paycheck? How much is a paycheck worth when you spend it all, whether by choice or need? Instead of focusing too much on the paycheck, focus on building wealth. Wealth is the result of how well you manage all the paychecks you’ve had and will have. You can buy a brand new car and purchase the latest gadget, or you can save that money. It’s even better if you invest it. Try to come up with ways to create residual income over the years.

3. Vacations to Freedom.

Everyone loves vacations. You get to decide what you do with your time off, and that’s great. But it doesn’t have to be completely that way. Everyday you have roughly 8 or more hours to choose to do whatever else you want to do. You can get better at something, learn a new language, or even better, choose to build additional sources of income so that they will help you get closer to ultimate freedom. And what is that? What is freedom to you? It could be financial independence or better yet, doing something you love so much that it doesn’t feel like work! That’s freedom.

4. Convenience to Health.

We live in an era of convenience. Need to go somewhere? Grab the car. Need food? Go grocery shopping. Getting hungry? Go to the drive-thru. Feeling thirsty? Grab a soda. Want to exercise? Hop on the treadmill. Too hot? Turn the AC on. Too cold? Turn on the heater. Homo Sapiens to Homo Comfort.

We can’t go hungry for more than an hour. It’s ridiculous! Paradoxically, we have become fragile because of all this comfort. Whenever possible, try to get in as many steps as you can. Every time we go on a trip, we make it a point to try to skip meals. Find out how you can integrate some variation with your body. Try to reduce some convenience in your life. Your body will be grateful.

5. Social media to Relationships.

I believe most people have come to realize that the amount of friends you have on your social media accounts mean nothing. Social media still adds value, but it has little to do with actual relationships. Relationships are built based on interaction, trust, support, and communication. In other words, relationships are the quality time you spend with others. Friendships are hard to make and even harder to maintain. Be available and flexible with your friends and family. Expect the same.

6. Hierarchy to Leadership.

So many of the working hours are spent with the goal of going up the ranks. One day you became (or will become) a boss or a manager. It’s extremely difficult to manage others, but as you gain knowledge and power, don’t forget what good leadership is about: helping others. You don’t even have to be high in the organizational chart to be a coach, a mentor, or a tutor for someone else. Likewise, be teachable. Accept feedback and let yourself be helped. Many people in power become less approachable because they forget that someone trained them at some point.

7. Salary to Impact.

Similar to paychecks, so many conversations are about salaries! Who makes how much? Who got a salary increase? So many conversations with coworkers are about money and little to none are about how much impact you create, or how fulfilling work is. Although it’s quite challenging to see concretely how informational work is reflected in the final products or services, strive to know how your work translates into positive impact to your community and to the world. Also, minimize the negative impact on the environment. Is climate change real? I think so. But why would it matter? Nobody wants to live with harsh chemicals and waste in their surroundings, including the environment.

8. Travel to Exploration.

Homo Sapiens evolved to move. I don’t mean traveling in an irresponsible way. Don’t travel to consume. Travel to explore. Discover something you didn’t know. When you explore, you fit pieces together and you make more sense out of this world: to become more tolerant, more flexible, more understanding of other cultures and preferences. You recognize some people are born in disadvantage. You learn where you come from. Exploration attunes your perspective.

9. What other important life metrics can you think of?

These are just a few distinctions. Which other overlooked life metrics could you benefit from? When we fail to consider the alternatives we get stuck in the status quo. Of course you should care about a higher salary, vacations, material things, and going up the ranks, but it’s crucial that you don’t lose connection to what truly matters. And honestly, who doesn’t need a reminder? Aim your actions at the intersection between the American dream and your dreams, values, and your well being. Keep an eye out for your kinds of indicators that help you monitor if you’re actually becoming healthier, wealthier, more skillful, and a better version of yourself!

Juan F. Diaz

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