Hello all you over achievers out there. This one’s for you. Everybody’s all about their Fitbits, and believe me, I get it. I bought mine last year, and stopped using it about a week ago. I’m going to talk about both events; because I think both are important. No matter where you are on this spectrum (measuring, not measuring), I hope you’ll enjoy this.
When I bought my Fitbit, I had just read a great article by James Clear in which he said, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” I wanted to improve my cardio, so…a couple of clicks later, my order was in for this watchband that would become my sort of personal trainer. I figured I probably already walked around 8,000 steps a day, but wanted to do it consistently. Reality check: turns out I was only really walking about 4- to 5,000 a day. What?! I started using this handy little device, and being more conscious of the choices I made all day about walking. Eventually, this helped me reach an average of 10,000 steps a day. And when I went into the city, forget it! 13,000! Sometimes 15,000 steps! So the act of measuring my steps helped me improve my record. By a lot.
Months later, things shifted. As with so many things, measuring has its dark side. I became so focused on whether my steps were being counted that little else counted. My gaze was focused at my wrist, not on the world around me. And I started realizing–this is how far I go to get validation–I log onto the website to measure my worth, to see how many steps I took. If I realized I’d forgotten my Fitbit during a walk in the park–the walk somehow “didn’t count.” I would feel guilty, as though I hadn’t actually gone for the walk. I robbed myself of all those steps, because they didn’t show up on the website. I had to ask myself at this point: was I using this device to establish a good habit (walking greater distances), or reinforce a bad one (using technology to turn away from the present moment). Alas, I had fallen into the second option.
So I let go of it for now. I still walk further every day now than I did before I started. But I’m walking for the sake of how good it feels, and not to check my standing on the website.
Where are you on this spectrum? Is there something you really need to start measuring, because you’ve been kidding yourself, and now it’s time to get serious? Is there something you measure too much, or too often, and maybe you need to let go of the numbers and smell the fresh air a little?
Either way, become present to how you’re moving through the world. Your body, your family, your friends will thank you.