I am enough

This Year, I Want to Take a Break from Tracking

Are you a data junkie, like me? A tell-tale sign is that you religiously wear a smart device–even at a formal event–because there is no way you’re missing out on steps. Or you think you had a good night’s sleep, until your sleep app advises you otherwise. Since the launch of wearable smart devices, I’ve tracked everything from exercise minutes to time taken to breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking tools and technology that help us achieve goals. It’s not the devices. It’s how I’m using them; I’ve lost sight of the big picture. I want to move from a critical lens to a kind one. So, this year, I want to take a break from tracking.

We Can All Benefit from Kindness

I try to write posts that appeal to everyone. So, I have considered that “over-tracking” may not resonate with you. However, regardless of your personality type, I bet there have been times when you’ve been too critical of yourself. As I see it, the constant surveillance of my personal stats is contributing to just that: a tendency to be hyper-critical and too focused on constantly being and doing more.

Do you compare yourself to others? Have you ever felt proud of yourself only to have that feeling diminished because you found out your colleague or friend accomplished it as well?

I don’t know if it’s my competitive nature or a lifetime of caring too much what other people think, but I am definitely too hard on myself. And I think that constantly measuring my outcomes, always striving to outdo my last achievement, is taking a toll on me.

So, that’s why I want to phase out the incessant tracking. I want to start listening to my own intuition instead of listening for the chime of my watch. I’m hoping that spending more time considering my broad goals and vision will help move me from a critical lens to a kinder one.

A Solid Start

A few years ago, when I created my website and began my kindness journey, I built a framework to create the habit of kindness in my life. I spent a lot of time defining my vision and mission, and identifying the goals and objectives that would get me there.

I was thinking broadly. My goals were wholistic, encompassing all areas important to life: spiritual and social as well as the more tangible physical and mental. And even more importantly, I was considering not only myself but the role of others in my life.

The Devil Really is in the Details

Then, I worked on making it all stick: setting SMART goals to create new habits and creating systems of measurement and reflection to ensure success.

I delved deep into tools to assist me in my pursuit:

  • checklists and spreadsheets with monthly, weekly, and daily goals around my pursuit of the habit of kindness.
  • monthly planning for my posts and to review the above checklists and spreadsheets.
  • an Apple watch (I have been and continue to be tethered to my watch since its launch in 2015, tracking everything from daily meditation and breathing to step and move goals)
  • and Streaks (Who could live without that?)
Making the Habit of Kindness Stick

Switching the Lens

The problem is obvious, right?

All these tools have their place. And really, they helped me achieve a lot. But I took it too far. I’m so caught up in the management of achieving, I’m losing time to do what matters most to me.

I want to spend less time tracking and analyzing and more time being who I’m striving to be.

Scaling Back to Get on Track

So, this year, I want to take a break from tracking. I want to spend more time considering my original mission:

To instinctively think and act with kindness towards myself and others.

I’m still going to set goals. But instead of spending a lot of time quantifying and analyzing them, I’m going to try and just trust my gut.

How is that going to work? Here is a sample of what I’m thinking:

  • Instead of striving to meet a step quota…spend more time walking my dog.
  • Instead of mandating a minimum number of blog posts and feeling guilty when I fail to meet the plan, publish when I’m interested in a topic and feel it could be useful for others.
  • Instead of requiring a certain number of workouts each week and counting calories, eat healthily most of the time and do my cardio and strength training on a regular basis. Don’t overanalyze the situation unless I start to feel out of shape at the gym or my clothes start to get tight.

Taking Time to BE

Cate, a positive psychology colleague of mine, expressed a similar line of thinking in her recent blog post:

“The point of a goal isn’t generally to have done the thing, rather it’s in who we get to be or become in achieving it.”

I got a kick out of Cate’s anecdote of listening to audio books at up to 1.7 times the speed just to make sure she met her Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year. She explained:

“I kind of forgot that the point of reading isn’t just to have read a book – it’s to enjoy reading it. And my capacity to actually savor something is doubtful when I’m running through it at breakneck speed.”

Don’t Do More, Do Better and Be Kinder

So, does this mean no more goals for me? Or am I going to stop trying to get stronger or perform better at work? No, of course not. I love improving and achieving. But what I’m striving for this year is to be kinder to myself in times of reflection. And to stop wasting time micromanaging data. I’ve spent years tracking it. I know what I need to do.

I want to take more time savoring my wins and less time comparing myself to others. Living a life of kindness includes being kind to myself and knowing that I am enough. And I don’t need a watch to tell me that.

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."

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