As a society we’re obsessed with metrics. From a young age we’re taught that numbers, scores and grades are the ultimate goals. As the saying goes, “what you can measure you can manage”. With the addition of tracking software and devices we’re surrounded by metrics of achievement and getting 10,000 steps a day is now normalised (interesting fact – the figure of 10,000 steps was incidentally based upon zero scientific research, just a number made up for marketing Fitbits!).
But what else do we measure? Well, once we’re done with exams in school we then move onto money. It seems like the only metric we have of modern ‘success’ is the number of zeros in a paycheck. The actual means by which the zeros are earned are less important. You could be picking chewing gum out of a urinal but earning six figures…congratulations, you’re a successful person.
The fact is, money is easy to measure so therefore by default it becomes a measuring stick. At a recent gathering of friends we were chatting about what we actually learnt at university, the overwhelming answer was “no idea”. We drank, partied and occasionally wrote essays. Do we use the information and education we received in day-to-day life now? Most probably not. Yet we’d been conditioned to believe that ‘successful people’ go to university, get a “good job”, settle down and see out the next forty years doing “something”.
I’ve met plenty of successful people in my life, but have tried to measure their apparent success not by the number of zeros in their salary. Are they fit and healthy? Do they have strong relationships with family, friends and community? Are they happy with their work or do they dread Monday mornings? Do they have time to stop and regularly reconsider their choices in life? These are all markers that are more difficult to quantify but I believe hold the secrets to a happier and more fulfilled life.