How to effectively measure your goals

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Written By cnu

Now that the new year has started, you probably have written down some New Year’s resolutions and promised yourself to lose weight, write that book, travel more, etc. I have too.

What good are goals if you don’t measure them, right? But there are two ways to measure your goals, and it matters a lot which one you choose.

Leading vs Lagging Indicators

When you set yourself a goal like losing 15 kgs, you feel motivated and buy a weighing scale, track your weight every day log it in your app, etc. But losing weight is an end goal of what you want to achieve. And it would take many months to achieve that goal.

Many times, you might not have direct control over that metric – like the number of sales you close, the number of bugs in your code, or whether you pass a course or not.

These metrics are what I would call a lagging indicator.

Instead of those, it makes so much sense to measure metrics that are under your control. If you take the weight loss goal, start measuring the number of steps you walk, the number of minutes of exercise you do, the calories you eat, etc. Those are all indicators that eventually lead to your goal. Those are leading indicators, that predict the future.

Instead of tracking the number of sales, track the number of cold outreach you do.
Instead of tracking the number of bugs, track the number of unit test cases you write.
Instead of tracking whether you pass a course or not, track the number of hours you spend learning or the number of pages of notes/revisions you do.

If you can achieve your leading indicators consistently, it means you are making progress towards your goals and eventually you will achieve your goal.

I have begun this year by setting myself personal OKRs (along with my job-related OKRs). I have a separate page where I track my key results and a weekly check-in of how my progress is.

I have a table with each key result as a row and every week as a column. I give myself a percentage score of how much progress I’ve made towards it.

What are some of your goals and what metrics are you tracking?

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