What Gets Measured… Must First Matter

One problem with the recent kind of personal development: The way life tracking goes wrong in its fascination with data.

It is nicely visible in its fondness for measurements.


The popular quote that summarizes it is “What gets measured gets managed”. The thought is attributed to Peter Drucker – and the wrongness starts with that attribution.

The idea is not necessarily wrong.

If something important for you is something that you can measure, and if that measuring means that you have insight and get a grip on it – good for you! By all means, go on if it does you good!


Not everything that gets measured also gets managed successfully, though.

If measurement were the solution, then all the people anxiously measuring their weight every day would this already, right?


Not everything that is measurable is the major driver of anything that is worth managing (or even just measuring), though.

How little sleep you can get by with? That is not going to be a great measure if all it does is ruin your productivity because you are tired all day.

Productivity is a great example of something that is often measured – but how, and how well? Let’s not even talk about working hours as a measure of anything other than hours written off as work.


Not everything that we should manage, not necessarily in a literal sense of the word, is even measurable.

The joy it brings your kids if you can spend time with them (and depending on the way you spend that time with them)?
The state of your relationships?

Is that really a “How happy are you, on a scale from 1 to 10?

Measure. When It Matters

We do good to think about the way we spend our lives, and if there are good measures that help us, we should consider using them. There can be great power and insight in that.

We just shouldn’t go overboard with thinking that we need to measure everything or that we’ll manage what we measure as a matter of course.

Some measurements don’t matter; some management doesn’t go best by numbers.

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