What are you measuring?

Cue smutty jokes!

Seriously though what are you measuring each month? Each week? Each year? What are you tracking?

One of the most interesting questions I have been exploring this year is “if things continue as they are am I happy with the direction?”

To be able to answer that question you need to be able to know whether you are going in the right direction or not. The only way to do this is to measure something…….

UPDATE: This article was originally written in November 2020. We’ve updated it in July 2024. Hello the future!

What are you measuring each month?

There are quite a few things I measure that help me to understand if I am on the right path or not. I measure:

  • My weight every day
  • My net-worth every month
  • When I was more involved with the day-to-day details of my business I used to track the business finances, look at our business social channels and review customer retention
  • And lots of other things!

What happens if you don’t measure

It was a beautiful late summer evening; warm and still light at 8pm. I was in my late twenties and was playing football (soccer). I was having the game of my life, dancing around defenders, shooting with a crispness and accuracy and bounding up and down the pitch. I turned to sprint back after one attack fizzled out and as I turned there was a “pop” behind me. I fell to the floor in agony.

It turns out I had ruptured (hospital language for snapped in two!) my Achilles tendon and had 8 weeks on crutches and a long recovery time. I had to stop playing football and exercising but I forgot to stop eating the same volume as previously. In case you didn’t know, this is a really good recipe for becoming overweight fast!

Fast forward a couple of years and exactly that had happened. I was a big, big, big dude! My weight had ballooned to over 18 stone and I was getting bigger and bigger.

I didn’t really notice it until I looked back at the photos of my holiday with Katie and was shocked by how large I had got without realising.

This all happened without me really noticing. I had been sliding in the wrong direction for some time but I didn’t really realise and then I woke up one morning and I was fat! I had not been measuring and didn’t know if I was going in the right direction or not.

Sure there were signs, my clothes got tighter and tighter but these were easy to explain away and ignore. I sleep-walked into fatness.

I think quite often people sleep walk into disasters without really knowing it is happening. They don’t really notice that things are changing slowly, an extra pound of weight on your belly every month, over spending by a few hundred pounds a month, a relationship getting slightly worse each month and then all of a sudden they wake up on the edge of a disaster without knowing how they got there.

If you aren’t measuring something then how do you know if you are going in the right direction and how do you realise quickly enough to do something about it before it becomes a complete disaster?!

My weight ballooned and ballooned without me noticing until I was a fat 30-something. If I had been measuring as I went along I might have noticed the decline earlier and done something about it! If you don’t know which direction you are moving in, how can you do anything about it?

Noticing trends early

Now I measure my weight daily to know whether I am going in the right direction or not. I measure it at the same time every day and I can see the results in the app that links to the scales.

Back in January 2019 in Tallinn, Estonia, I was doing my annual reflection and noticed the trend of my weight and body fat percentage was going in the wrong direction! This is the graph:

Several things stand out. Firstly, after Christmas 2018 I recovered quickly from the overeating! Although, it always amazes me how much my weight balloons over Christmas!

In the middle of the year we had several trips and then went to a financial independence retreat in November and the food was too good! Towards the end of the year my weight quickly went up! At the low in the year I was 14 stone 10 lbs (94 kilos or 206 lbs) and at the high I was 16 stone (102 kilos or 224 pounds) which is way too heavy for me! My clothes didn’t fit properly and I felt uncomfortable!

If we add a trend line to the graph it really creates an impact!

Then I started to ask myself the questions “If I continue in the current direction, am I happy with where I am going?” If you look at that trend line I am headed right back to extremely overweight and fat. This is not where I want to go. Noticing this at Christmas allowed me to take action before it got really, really bad. I took action.

In the first 5 weeks of the following year, 2019, I lost 4 kilos (9 lbs) and I started to move in the right direction. If I had not been measuring to see this graph I might have slipped the wrong way for another year before truly noticing what was happening.

​If you are not tracking and measuring how can you do something about it? What gets measured gets improved!

One of the most important things to track is your money and the direction that that is heading in. Check out this video we made of WHY you should track your money every month.

What can you measure?

The question you should ask yourself to uncover what you should measure is “what’s important to me?”

What do I value in life?

My list of things that are important to me include; health; creativity; relationships & love; finances; creativity; fun and more.

Some things like “fun” don’t need measuring with a number but it is worth having a monthly check in to ask the question “are we having enough fun in our lives?”

Other things like finance, business and health are easy to measure, track and work out if you are going in the right direction or not. Here’s the list of what Katie and I measure to make sure we are staying on track:

1. Net-worth. Most people don’t even know what their net worth is, let along track it and measure it. Every month we work out how much we are worth to make sure it is going in the right direction. If you need help working out your net-worth read this article

2. Spending. Where is your money going? Ever had the feeling of “where did all the money go?” when you reach the end of the month and there is nothing left?

Well, there is an easy way to find out the answer to that! You need to track your spending. Pick 7 or 8 categories and start to track your spending. Unsure how to track? Well read this page and you can also use our free spending tracker.

3. Body fat percentage. I want to know if I am getting fatter or thinner. I ignore weight, I focus on muscle mass and body fat percentage. I track it every day to see if I am going the right direction

4. Business sales. How much money is the business bringing in? What are we selling and what are we projecting to sell in the next year? Sales are the life blood of your business and if you aren’t tracking this and measuring it each month you are heading for disaster.

5. Podcast listeners. I have a podcast on entrepreneurship called Rebel Entrepreneur and I want to know if people are listening, getting value and taking action. I track listeners, subscribers and email list numbers and I’ve surveyed my listeners periodically to ask for feedback.

6. Rebel Business School feedback. I want to know if the work we are doing at Rebel Business School is actually having an impact! We have put a process in place at the end of every course to capture feedback and then generate a report that we review with our partners. This helps us all keep on track. A couple of years ago we started tracking past participants of the course over time and produced the Rebel Impact Report.

7. Profitability. One of my old business mentors used to say “sales are for vanity, profit is sanity”. If you track high how you can push sales without knowing if you are making money or not that is a sure fire way to disaster. Tracking your levels or profitability after ALL expenses is critical.

8. Rebel Finance School feedback. Just like for the Business School, we want to know if Rebel Finance School is helping the people that attend. We ask for feedback at the end of each course and review the results to see if we’re heading in the right direction and how we can improve for the next time we run it.

9. Sleep. If I am going to have the energy required to produce a podcast, help run Rebel and write a blog then I am going to need good quality sleep. I track this using my Fitbit which gives me a score for how good my sleep is and tells me how much deep, light and REM sleep I get.

There are so many thing you could measure which is why I suggest starting with the question “what is important to you?”

One sure fire way to fail at this stuff is to try and start tracking everything at once, make it an onerous task and give up after a few days…

Start tracking one thing

Pick one thing that is important to you and start tracking it over the next few months. Get into the habit of tracking and reviewing and make it something easy and pleasurable to do!

​Katie and I have our monthly finance meetings each month where we track our net-worth and spending and more. We make it fun by doing it with a nice breakfast out! MMMM, eggs, bacon and an Americano and talking about finances! It is so much fun.

The Donegans out for breakfast and their monthly finance meeting

Monthly finance meeting! Yummy

Our last finance meeting at Benedict in Berlin! Wow the food and coffee was good!!

Pick one area and start to measure and track. Review the numbers once every fortnight (British for 2 weeks) or once a month and ask the question “do I like the direction I am heading?”

Curious for more details about how we run our monthly finance meetings?

Check out this video we made for you.

What gets measured gets improved

Get geeky about it and create an easy way to track the numbers in the area you have decided upon. Then review them fortnightly or monthly and you will be amazed at the results.

Where your focus goes energy flows. If you focus on your health and improving it then results will follow. If you focus on your sales numbers and start doing something every day to improve them then it is only a matter of time before results follow.

Use the numbers to focus your energy and improve the results you are getting in the most important areas of your life.

Take action

It’s all very well knowing this but nothing changes unless you take action. Get the metaphorical tape measure out and start to measure the numbers that are important to you and review the direction you are going in!

I would love to know what you track, if you have found it helps or not, if you used to measure things and stopped? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading our blog and being part of the gang!

If you want updates on Rebel Finance School and to get alerts about new content we produce then sign up to the mailing list below.

Have a wonderful week and I am excited to work with you on improving your health, wealth and happiness!

​Alan and Katie

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