Measure → Manage
There’s a quote in business (apparently from Peter Drucker) that “what gets measured gets managed”. The metrics a business decides to focus on will become the metrics that the business seeks to optimize, which leads into Goodhart’s Law and ruins the metric.
But if we think about this concept in a personal context, in light of the transactional, treat-your-life-like-a-business mindset, there’s a similarly thorny outcome.
Humans are Hard to Measure
Here’s an excellent tweet from Adam Grant:
Many people chase wealth, status, and achievement because progress is easy to measure, failing to realize that the gains that count the most are the hardest to count.— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) December 26, 2020
Real growth is building character—striving to improve in generosity, integrity, humility, fairness, or courage.
People are drawn to measurement, so we default to proxies that are easy to measure instead of watching the complexities we actually care about.
Playing status games is similarly enticing, because having ‘competitors’ makes it clearer whether you’re ‘winning’ or not.