Lately, I’ve been making major strides in my motivation, performance and (personal) sense of satisfaction. How ? Simple. I started putting in place a core set of personal performance measurement techniques that tell me when to keep pushing onwards – and when to cut my losses.
Up until a few months ago, I found myself consistently torn between two camps. On the one hand, there is the “it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings” camp. They believe that the game isn’t over until you call it, and there is always another step worth taking. They believe that – for the most part – we are all just one step away from success. That most people give up one step shy of their big breakthrough. And they believe that good things will come to those who – not wait but – persist.
On the other hand, there is the “fail fast, fail often” camp. They believe you should pursue an idea for a set amount of time, and then either pivot (change) it, or kill it and go do something different with your time. They believe that the customer is always right, and only by listening intently can we discover what they want and find success. And they believe that an idea in and of itself is worth nothing – only execution matters.
In theory, both sound like plausible explanations or “schools of thought” to follow. In practice, not so much. See, the biggest dilemma I had was not whether to kill or to pursue. It was when to kill an idea that was showing some promise, but not enough. Do you keep going, hoping that the big break is just around the corner ? Or do you kill it then and there ? And what is “enough promise” anyway ?
So then I started running a little experiment.
I took a set of activities that were core to my business (testing ideas in the market, prospecting, sales and networking) and put in place a combination of individual metrics that allowed me to measure progress. Then, I developed a set of KPIs which I refined as results started coming in.
None of this is rocket science. I started measuring call-to-meeting ratios. Website visitor tracking. Conversion and signup rates. Including qualitative data from e-mails and conversations. Personal satisfaction and the subjective feeling of reward I experienced when engaging in a particular activity.
And combining everything into a single, overall approach that told me in no uncertain terms whether an idea was worth pursuing further or not.
You see, any of these metrics by themselves yield valuable information, but not the full picture. But together, they formed a powerful method for assessing ideas, activities and tasks on the financial, emotional and intellectual value they generate.
So far, the results have included:
- A clear process for deciding which ideas are worth pursuing, which to kill and when to do it
- A personal dashboard that helps me keep track of how I’m doing on a day-to-day basis and keeps me motivated and energized
- A set of core metrics that inform my decision making and make it more accurate
- A deeper insight into the underlying reasons why a particular idea might work or fail (informing whether to pivot or kill it)
- More peace of mind and an improved feeling of personal control about my life and destiny
Recently, I started exploring how I could integrate this kind of approach into other aspects of my life. How much value do I get out of specific tasks that I routinely “need to” do ? How much enjoyment and personal satisfaction do specific activities give me ? How can I improve my time-to-value ratio (the amount of time you spend on something vs. how much value it creates in your life) ?
Peter Drucker once said “what gets measured, gets done”. Perhaps it’s not only about what gets measured, but also how you measure it.