On tracking the wrong things

Last week a friend of mine mentioned she has a 1-year streak on Duolingo. Yet, after further inquiry, it became apparent she couldn't hold a basic conversation in that language. And then it occurred to me how easy it is to become obsessed with things that don’t matter, and be proud of them as it’s an achievement all in itself. Yet, have almost nothing to show for it in reality. Individuals, as well as organisations, are equally guilty of it.

And a disclaimer, I am more guilty of focusing on the wring things than most others, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this article. Some of the things I tracked daily, and wanted to achieve the longest streak possible, include:

  • Meditation;
  • Journalling;
  • RescueTime productivity score;
  • NoFap;
  • GitHub commits;
  • Abstaining from caffeine;
  • Abstaining from alcohol;
  • Cold shower;
  • .. and the list goes on

While there is nothing wrong with tracking per se, the problem occurs when the metric becomes the goal whilst ignoring whether it's achieving its original intention.

For example, when it comes to meditation, I should be asking myself why do I want to do it? Is the reason to become calmer, increase self-awareness or gain a new perspective? If so, I should start by researching which meditation practice would work best for me, and start from there. If needed, even track the meditation streaks, durations, or whatever else, in order to impose some self-control.

BUT, this is the critical part, once some time has passed, make sure to evaluate if the practice is actually working. Are you achieving the original goals!?

IF NOT, go back to the drawing board, be honest with yourself, evaluate what should change, and try again!