Secret of Adulthood: You Manage What You Measure.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:


The fact is, if you want more or less of something in your life, it’s very helpful to measure it, because you manage what you measure. I’m now calling this the “Strategy of Monitoring.”

Maybe there’s something you’d like to change in your life — to get more of something good or less of something bad. Try this: figure out a very concrete way to measure and track it. By counting the things that count — and pushing yourself to find a way to count the things that seem as if they can’t be counted — you make sure they’re part of your life.

Agree, disagree?


    This is the second time today this thought has come up, coinciding with my desire to set better boundaries and priorities on my writing and personal life. I agree. I have begun making a time log to keep track (for as log as I can) of how I spend my time. If I can do it in less than a week, so be it. I think it will help…be one small step…towards making decisions, setting a schedule, and deciding what needs to be done and what can be let go.

    • I’m in a similar place Camcath…researching and then setting a schedule is hard!

  • The fact that this goes against the grain for me probably makes it all the more true. Maybe a chart on the refrigerator would help me get the boxes from my recent move unpacked!

  • Chicspace/Marguerite

    I just finished 16 weeks of exercising 6x/week without missing a workout by simply putting a star on the calendar each day I did it and then photographing and posting the pic. Success!

    Today is my first day fully off due to some overuse injuries (lol) and I reached my initial workout goal. Planning to get back on track on Wednesday. Feel very odd not getting my star today.

  • I agree! It also works very well if you are overwhelmed with a big project. I recently worked on over 100 costume pieces for a school musical with a three week deadline. I did it with zero stress simply by breaking it down to five pieces per day for 21 days. Your secret is going to help me to prioritize in order to reach my goals!

  • Lucky Barb

    Agree! I hadn’t really thought about this before, but this is so true. Anything I keep track of (weight, activities, tasks, time) I do manage much better. Perhaps simply because it keeps those things front and center, or perhaps because it gives concrete evidence of what we’re doing. I’m going to test this by monitoring areas I need to manage better, and watch what happens.

  • ravenrose

    In general I disagree so emotionally with this. I guess it’s because I have been in so many job situations where some idiot decides a silly measurement is a good proxy for something orders of magnitude more complex than that… In the Behavioral Economics class I am taking online, a strong point is made about the futility and harm of trying to do that.

    Measuring is good for certain extremely narrow things, but don’t get carried away!

  • Avis Rose

    I agree….. I like dividing work in small manageable tasks that
    have to be done everyday. I audit myself at the end of the week to understand where
    I stand and what needs to be accomplished the next week. But then, I am more of
    a checklist kind of a person where I like crossing out tasks, once completed.

  • RichlyMiddleCla

    i have never thought about doing that. What a great plan in helping you to achieve your goals.

  • Todd Lohenry

    Hi, Gretchen! As much as I love you and your work, I’m going to suggest that a strategy of monitoring is incomplete without a third element which is ‘modify’. If I don’t modify based on my measurement, then I don’t progress. Together, manage, measure, modify make up a ‘3 legged stool’ of a solid improvement platform…

  • I whole-heartedly agree. Most of the time the measurement
    need only be some simple external acknowledgement of whether the task or step
    towards a goal was accomplished or not (a la CAMCATH’s log or
    Chicspace/Marguerite’s calendar stars, for example) and not something tedious
    that could sabotage your efforts. For me it’s a way to hold myself accountable.
    I too like gold-stars.

  • s_ifat

    there are no words to how much i dont disagree with this. it’s takes the fun out of the thing you want to change, it becomes a chore, something you h-ave to check and deal with feels as if i’m a child again and my mother wants to see the home work at the end of the day. so no measure for me. i have lost weight not because i told myself- no. i told myself: you can eat whatever you want whenever you want, it’s all there for you if you want, but do you really want it?” and the answer almost every time is: no, i dont want that snak. but i dont check at the end of the day how i did. my workout is horseback riding, i’m doing it for 25 years now, cause i love it, not because i h-ave to work out. i also love walking while listening to audiobooks. but no gym for me. no measures for me, i just dont see the point

    • s_ifat

      fist line i wrote by mistake “dont disagree” of course i meant dont agree

  • myzyczny zespół

    good advice, I’ll try to use them…

  • Marabeth Duncan

    sort of agree, but I observe that this is the exact opposite philosophy of well known blogger Leo Babauta. Ya’ll should duke it out on this idea.

  • wypożyczalnia samochodów łódź

    interesting article, I reflect on this, the only question is how osiśgnąć this?

  • lyzki

    I’m standing at a crossroad in life and do not know which way to go, I do not know what my dear?

  • elektryk

    I think the topic is thought…