productivityToday, I’m going to talk about weight loss.  But what I’m really talking about is MUCH bigger, as you’ll soon see…

On September 9th, I wrote that I’d recently bought a scale, for the first time in my adult life.  I’d put on a few more extra pounds than I was comfortable with, and recognized it was time to reverse the trend.

I also shared how I’d begun tracking my weight, by weighing every day, and putting that number into a spreadsheet.

The daily weigh-ins actually started on September 1st.  As of today, I’m 76 days in, and haven’t missed a day.

How am I doing?

On September 1st, I weighed 207.2 pounds.

This morning, at 4:44 AM (I also enter the time of day I weighed), I weighed 193.2 pounds.

(I’m not using any gimmicky diets either, and I didn’t become an exercise zealot.  That’s all I’ll say about “how” for now.)

I was interested, so I also updated my spreadsheet to calculate a few other numbers.

— Every day, when I enter my daily weight, it also tells me what my average weight over the last 7 days was.

— In addition, it tells me how much my 7-day average weight has changed over the last 7 days.  (I use 7-day average as a way to somewhat offset and ignore normal daily fluctuations in our weight.)

— Plus, it calculates how much my 7-day average has changed over the last 30 days.

— And, it tells me how much I’ve lost since the beginning of this journey.

As of today, I’ve lost about 2 pounds in the last week (which is the top of the range I’m comfortable with), 6.9 pounds in the last 30 days, and 14 pounds since I started.

All of that is well and good, but there are other benefits that are just as important…

Any time we get in one good habit, it spills over into the rest of our life.

I’ll admit I’d kind of fallen off the wagon.  While I was still getting things done prior to this weight loss journey, it was a bit chaotic and in disarray.

Since September 1st, I’ve done quite a few things that have me in a better space than ever…

— I’ve gotten back to more intentional planning of my business, and am planning some HUGE things for 2017.

— I’ve gotten back into daily productivity habits that have me getting things done that were going ignored.

— I’ve dealt with some personal stuff I was responsible for that I wasn’t totally happy with.

— I’ve picked up my kettlebell again, which I’d stopped doing consistently a few months back.

— I’ve started doing daily morning meditations, first thing in the morning, and am currently on an 11-day streak.

— I probably wrote some of the best copy of my life, too (the campaign is about to launch).

I feel better about myself, and am very actively moving toward a bigger, brighter, more successful future.

It all started with focusing on one number, and a 2-minute morning habit…

I’ve read and heard a lot about morning habits.  15- or 30-minute morning rituals.  Huge “rah rah” things that people are doing to get themselves psyched for the day.

I couldn’t do any of it.

I might try for a day or two, and be really excited about how I started.  But it would fizzle out before the week was over, and I’d be back at square one the next week.

I even tried daily affirmations.  After writing a TON of them, I found I never wanted to take a minute to read through my list.  Even if one of the affirmations was “I get up every morning and read my daily affirmations first thing.”

None of that worked.

But then I tried a really little thing.  I decided that when I got up in the morning, I’d go to the bathroom, weigh myself, and use my phone to enter it into a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

Nothing fancy.  No apps or anything like that.  At that time, I didn’t even track trends or averages, or anything like that.

It was just one little thing I could control.

I didn’t even make a big deal about changing my diet.  (I pretty much eat the same foods I did before, just in slightly smaller portion sizes.)

I just decided to track my weight.

The add-on effects have been even more than I imagined.

So: what does this all have to do with marketing and business?

Well, a lot.

The first is very direct.  Having healthy habits increases your brainpower, clarity, and productivity in itself.

Second is the add-on effects already mentioned.  By developing one small healthy habit, I’ve experienced a positive feedback loop that’s led to even more positive habits.

Third is the principle…

“What gets measured gets improved.”

This quote is widely credited to Peter Drucker, and has been repeated a million times.

I have a target weight range, based on my body type, height, fitness level, and so on.  I don’t want to be much above or below that.  I know I will feel best if I’m in that range.

On September 1st, I was pretty far above that range.

But I’d gone most of my life not measuring it.  And whenever I didn’t consistently measure it, I let my weight creep up and up, slowly.

By starting with the simple habit of measuring that one number every day and tracking it, I’ve started a very direct course toward my target weight range.

I’ve also been very thoughtful and intentional about what decisions I make today that will have an impact on my number tomorrow morning.

And that’s where the real power in tracking comes in.  Once you start regularly measuring a “number” that represents your state or progress toward a goal, you’ll start doing things to make that number better, and avoiding things that will make it worse.

And the more often you measure, the more you’re reminded to stay on track and keep the big picture in mind.

How this applies in all areas of your business…

Part of what I’m doing in being more intentional for my plans for my business is getting back into the book Traction by Gino Wickman.

It’s a very comprehensive (yet simple) system designed for bigger businesses, to really be planful about the direction you’re headed, and how you’ll get there.

While most of my business life up until this point (after leaving my last job in February 2010) has been as a solo consultant, I am transitioning to a business that’s bigger than me.  In order to make that happen, I’m implementing the systems up front that make that possible.

What’s most relevant here, from Traction, is its focus on data as a way to keep track of your direction as a business.  His contention is that when you identify and track the important numbers in your business, the revenue will follow as a result.

He illustrates the power of this through multiple case studies.  Businesses that identified their ONE important (non-revenue) number.  And began tracking it.  And how this narrowed their focus and led to tremendous success and growth.

Today, I’ve begun tracking one very important number while I’m still primarily making money from consulting and copywriting: the percentage of my work hours that are dedicated to productive activities in pursuit of my biggest goals.  If that drops below 75%, that’s trouble.  If I keep it above 75%, I’m in really good shape.

For the next iteration of my business (the one that’s bigger than me), I’m already defining the measurable that I want to be able to track that will be THE most important number in the business.

Of course, most businesses are bigger than one number…

For that reason, you keep a scorecard.  This narrows down your 10 or so most important numbers, that give a complete picture of the health of your business, including marketing, finances, operations, admin, and so on.

It also gives each role or department something to shoot for, that is their contribution to the big number that drives the business forward in the most meaningful way.

And in fact, each role and department can have their own meaningful number that defines their own success within the organization.  That goes on the scorecard and is a way for them to measure their own contribution.

If all of this starts to sound too restrictive, here’s my final thought…

Remember, even though I’m becoming a bit of a zealot for this, both in my current behavior and in where I’m looking forward towards…

I didn’t start that way.

In fact, I’ve tended to resist this kind of tracking, for the most part.

But then I got into one really good habit, that I knew was important for my health.  I started tracking one number that serves as an important indicator of my general healthy (or unhealthy) habits.

I got in the habit of taking 2 minutes every morning, stepping on the scale, and tracking what it told me.

From this, I’ve started finding the tiny habits like this — and the numbers I can track — that will bring me to my biggest goals.

Don’t start by thinking you need to go buy Traction (even though that’s a good idea) and start using it for your entire business today.

Find one thing you can do, measure, and track over time that will create a positive feedback loop that will push you toward your goals.

Then, when you feel the natural pull to add another item, do that.  And when you feel the pull to add another, do that.  Always erring on the side of going to slow, and not overburdening yourself with too many onerous habits you won’t continue.

Remember it was the tortoise who beat the hare…  All the tortoise had to do was track her speed and make sure it stayed above zero.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr