Measure What Matters

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Today, we’re going to take a look at measurements, and why they matter.  I’ll share some key statistics that I’ve been tracking on The Retirement Manifesto’s growth  (I find them interesting, and hope you enjoy seeing “the numbers” behind this blog!).

Measuring What Matters can improve your success in achieving any goal. Click To Tweet

Whether in your job, your personal life, or your hobbies, measurements can help you gauge your progress on your journey toward your goals.  As you see quantifiable progress toward your goals, you gain motivation.  Think about weight loss as an example:  you set a goal, (“Lose 10 lbs”),  measure your progress, and weigh in.  As you see the pounds drop off (“I lost 1 lb this week!”), you gain motivation to continue taking the proper steps that move you toward your goal.  It’s a virtuous cycle, made more powerful when you Measure What Matters.

Today, we’ll look at goals and measurements in 3 areas of life.  I’ll share some examples from my life, in the hope that you can apply the same concept to areas within your life.  Here are the areas we’ll discuss:

  1. My Career
  2. My Personal Finances
  3. The Retirement Manifesto

Measure What Matters In Your Career

The McKinsey Maxim

The McKinsey Maxim states that “What You Can Measure, You Can Manage”.  In my 30+ year career in Corporate America, I’ve personally experienced the reality of that statement many times.  Thinking through my wonderful (no sarcasm here) annual review process, I recall the hundreds of measurements which I’ve used to measure progress throughout my career.  Over the years, I’ve had many “job related” metrics, from sales volume (Sales Manager), production volume (Plant Manager), inventory levels (Supply Chain), and costs (Procurement). As of today (Happy Anniversary! July 5, 1985), I’ve achieved 31 years of employment, or 372 months.  I can only speculate on how many monthly reports I’ve generated in 372 months of employment.  Several hundred, at least.  The majority of those monthly reports included progress against some relevant metric.  What you can measure, you can manage.

Measure What Matters In Personal Life

If measuring something helps you manage it in your career, do measurements also have a role in personal life? Personally, I believe there’s value in developing some personal measurements.  As the following quote highlights, measurements lead to control, and conrol leads to improvement.

measurement is the first step

Since this blog relates to personal finance,  I’ll focus on the financial measurements that can help you achieve your personal finance goals.

First, you should establish some goals for your personal finance.

Do you want to retire by Age 50?  Develop a goal, then put a measurement in place to track your progress.  To retire at Age 50, you’ll need a certain Net Worth by the time you’re 40.  Figure out what that needs to be, then track your net worth to see if you’ve achieved that level by Age 40.  Build a series of “mini-goals” en route to your major goal, then track your progress on a regular basis to see how you’re doing.  Measure What Matters.

Do you want to be out of debt?  Figure out what your debts are, then develop a plan to reduce them by $X/month (a monthly budget is, after all, simply a measure of what you’ve actually spent!). Develop a goal for how much debt you want to pay off next month, and track it.  See if you can improve it by $50 the following month.  Use goals and measurements together to motivate yourself to improve various areas of your life.

Money Goals For Every Age:  Have a look at this article to get some ideas on goals you should have at every age in your life.  Pick 1-2 goals, and begin to measure them.  See if it helps.  Based on my experience, it will.

In addition to finance, I also have a public log measuring my goals on physical fitness, which you can view here.  I created that log to help motivate me on my goal to swim across Lake Zurich, and it includes training notes and workouts in detail for any of my readers to see.  I’ve found that having measurements specifically focused on those areas where you have goals helps keep you on track toward achieving those goals.

(PS: If any of you are curious on how I’m doing on my training for The Swim Across Lake Zurich, I’m now 6 weeks away from the event, and swimming 30+ minutes 2-3 times per week. Tonight’s swim was 35 minutes non-stop, so I’m making progress. Bottom Line:  “On Track”, if I can prioritize the swims over the next few weeks. Click here if you want to monitor my progress through the Summer).

 

Measure What Matters – The Retirement Manifesto

Last month, I started a spreadsheet to track certain measurements related to my blog.  It’s amazing how many tools are available to track key metrics related to a website.  Below is a picture I took from Google Analytics, which shows how many “Page Views” I’ve gotten by month since beginning this site:

Pageviews

I find it exciting to see that I had almost 11,000 page views in May (my “biggest” month).  That means, in an average day, there were over 365 views of pages on my blog!  Amazing, and inspiring.  It’s also interesting to see efforts that I put into the site get “rewarded” by increased views.

When my story on “Retirement Is Hard” got profiled on Rockstar Finance, for example, I saw an immediate impact, as shown on the chart below. On the day they ran my story, my pageviews jumped to 2,871 views. In one day.  It’s amazing how much impact some of these “larger” sites can have.  Since I have metrics, I learned a lesson.  Now, I focus a few hours each month on building my relationship with larger sites, and getting my website “out there” through guest posting, commenting on some of the bigger sites, building rapport, etc.

rockstar

Late last month, I built a spreadsheet to start formally tracking some of the key metrics for The Retirement Manifesto.  I find it interesting, and am excited to share with you (for the first time ever), some of the key metrics for this site. Figures are as of June 30th:

  1. # of Followers On Twitter:  597
  2. # of Followers on Facebook: 156
  3. # of Followers on Instagram:  129
  4. # Of Tweets: 1,709
  5. Profile Views On Twitter:  9,913
  6. Most Read Article:  13,265 Views  (The 10 Commandments)
  7. Email Subscribers:  486
  8. # of People Who Have Seen My Site: 22,699
  9.  Rank Among Personal Finance Blogs:  #331 (as rated by Modest Money)

Conclusion

Measure What Matters. It can help you achieve your goals.  Whether it’s in your career, your personal life, or your hobbies, find a few metrics that can help you measure your progress.  Find ways to “move the needle”.  As your metrics improve, you’ll be moving closer to achieving your goals.  At the same time, realize that some of the most important areas of life can’t be measured.  That’s ok, too.  Focus on what’s important, and build measurements where they make sense.  Used correctly, they can help improve your life.

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10 comments

  1. Fritz;
    Great post and I could not agree more … what gets measured gets done. One of the quotes on this topic I read on a friends refrigerator recently also resonates with me on this topic – “I am not afraid of failure, I am afraid of succeeding at thing that don’t matter” and therefore “Measuring what Matters” as your post hits head on is key. Thank you for keeping it relevant and us focused on the joys of early retirement!!

    1. Kirk, thanks so much for your comment! As one who has taken the successful path to early retirement, I respect your opinion! Sometimes I worry that I’m too focused on the numbers, and I strive to keep things in balance. Regardless, there’s no doubt in my life experience that measuring the things that matter can lead to a better life. Great to “see” you out here – looking forward to your next guest post!!

    1. Graham, thanks so much for your comment. It was your post that inspired me. Keep up the good work on your blog, and thanks for commenting on mine!

  2. Very cool axiom, Fritz. How many of us measure what doesn’t matter? (Forcing myself to raise hand).

    I like your progress tracker, especially the mood metric. I assume it reinforces the “just do it’ principle? How easy it is to blow off commitments when you’re not in the mood for them.

  3. Perfect post. Tracking towards a goal is essential. First, it means you have a goal. Second, it shows you care about your progress towards that goal. If you have no goal/plan, you must just be wandering around. Even in retirement there are many goals, all being managed simultaneously. Driven people like challenges.

    1. Kevin, good comments about the importance of goals, I agree they’re important to keep us from simply “wandering around” (nice line)!

  4. Hey Fritz,
    Although I knew that what you measure you can take action on, I had no idea at all that it had a name!
    Nice work on the progress with your blog. Keep up the good work. I look forward to seeing some nice charts over the coming months/years.

    1. ATL – thanks so much for your comment! I’ll have to make a note to update my metrics for my readers several times a year. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. I just found this post and I like it Fritz! It’s hard to keep track of everything ongoing in life but for those things that matter, we must keep track of them. That’s the only way to track progress and see how we are moving!

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