Starts when you are young
Let's start with my favourite template - exams. It does not matter how well you've understood your subject. What matters is what marks you are getting on that darn exam. Because it is with those marks that you make your case for the next step in your life. Public examinations in XII determine your college, and so on.
Today, it is straightforward to recognise that it is a dumbed-down tool. A tool designed to solve a problem - sift through a large number of people and rank them. Then, put them into appropriate buckets. But the larger our population gets, the larger the numbers everywhere, and the more this system propagates itself.
Results = Effort
You see this mentality across the board. It is simpler to measure results. In sport, Did you win? is the only measurement needed. Makes sense. In the money-driven and cut-throat world of top-level sport, sure.
But why do you need to take the same approach in your life? Especially in your health and fitness?
Many modern-day tools - wearables and new tech - want you to measure your results. You measure your success at the gym based on whether you achieved your training goal or not. If you went on a training plan to improve your endurance, you need to know if your final measurement was higher than your initial measurement. For example, if you ran 5k in 30 minutes and 8 weeks later you ran it in 27 minutes, there's the proof!
The results are a direct consequence of your effort.
Not that simplistic
But many times, especially at your level, things are more complicated than this simple equation. You are not a measure of your 5k. Your work-life balance, your relationships, your friendships, your sanity - all of them matter. But you allow life to pull you along and make some semblance of it by looking at a microcosm and measuring it.
Everything is fine when that measurement points in the right direction. And everything is terrible when it is not.
And you tend to miss the larger picture by hiding behind this.
Keep an eye on the results
You need to measure results. There is no doubt about it. But there needs to be more thought while measuring effort.
As more and more tools flood the market and promise you more control - Continuous Glucose Monitors are the latest - the idea is to keep a close eye on the effort-results connection. A CGM, for example, allows you to see immediate consequences. It is a great tool, especially for diabetics, but all of us could learn from it. But within a month, you should be able to glean all the information from it. After that, it becomes about the quality of effort you are putting in.
Because the results will take care of themselves if your effort is the right quality and quantity.
I am a huge fan of heart-rate monitors. If there's one gadget everyone in fitness needs, it is that. Everything else has a use but is short-term. Your sleep trackers, your pedometers, your whatevers - they can keep tracking. They are useful to keep an eye on. To make sure the effort and results correlate. But one does not need to keep obsessing over them, but visit them.
Keep a closer eye on the effort
There needs to be more focus on the effort one is putting in. A 360-degree view of it, rather than sticking to a one-dimensional approach. If you are spending 12 hours at the gym and seeing fat loss, but at the cost of your friendship or job - is that a true result?
If you are at 10% body fat but cannot partake in social gatherings, is that a positive result?
You need to move away from what they say results are. Who are they - the amalgam of the fitness industrial complex (a term I am stealing from Chip Conrad), the media and whoever is out there to make a profit - that's who they are.
They don't have your best interests in mind. They have their best interests in mind. That's how it is.
So, you put on your thinking hat. And keep an eye on your effort. And the results. But remember, if the effort is true, the score takes care of itself.
When poor results come by, a post-mortem needs to be done on the effort. Nowhere else.
As I understand more of the philosophy that drives me, I realise the two big efforts of my life stay true to this. At The Quad, our primary mantra to our students is to get them to show up. At Daily9, it is all about clarifying what the effort one needs to put in is.
It is not because of The Quad and D9 that I am preaching this. It is because I (and my co-founders) know this (effort!) to be true that we came up with the experience that focuses on it.
TLDR: Focus on effort. Keep an eye on the results. Both need a broader view than you currently have.