Having a metric to help you measure success is imperative. But so is being willing to change the metric when appropriate. I’ve learned that specific metrics that once seemed to define everything can — and should — evolve over time.
In the first decade of my career, my metric was to provide for my family. I had been educated by the school of hard knocks, was in a blue collar job, and had a family with young kids to feed. Aiming high for me meant putting meat and potatoes on the table, and providing an education and a future for my children. I didn’t have the bandwidth or confidence to think about much more.
But working against the metric of “providing” soon unleashed something else. I loved taking on exciting challenges at work, and this fueled my career. The next 20 years became about realizing my career potential and the metric for achievement, which I used to succeed as an executive.
About five years ago, I examined my career goals again and found myself in a new place. I had achieved my original goal of providing for my family, and my next goal of succeeding as an executive. And, I had made sacrifices to do so. Suddenly, I felt short on time. I wanted to have even more time to spend with my wife and family. I wished to spend more time on things l enjoyed doing. I needed to carve out more time to give back.
With that newfound importance of time as a precious resource, I completely restructured my life and what I was optimizing for. I carved out additional structured time to spend with my wife. I left a CEO role, and formalized my interest in angel investing into an investment network with my friends and former colleagues. My family and I increased our focus on building a foundation to give opportunities to under-resourced kids. I started writing more and wrote a book, which led to an idea for a new mentoring company that I co-founded called Everwise.
I was really happy with this new life, and suddenly, I realized something. I wasn’t really optimizing for time, but was optimizing for feeling positive energy and making an impact. The decisions I was making were not about controlling my schedule; they were about filling it with things I found meaningful. That discovery gave me great clarity and helped me achieve the next stage of life I wanted to live.
The metric I now use to measure my success boils down to focusing on where I derive energy from and determining how can I make a positive impact. I still aim to provide for my family and to achieve success as an executive (just not in an operating role), but using energy and impact as my metric has given me clear direction. I’ve dedicated more time to taking trips with my wife and having fun experiences with my family. I recognized the impact of creating new things, and with that understanding, I’ve further built WIN, my investment network. We are exploring ways to do even more company creation, as we did with Everwise. I’ve also discovered how much energy I get from coaching and am investigating ways to codify lessons so they are easier to share.
With energy and impact as my metric, I’m enjoying doing things I love every day. In many ways, I wish I understood this earlier, but at the same time, I know that assigning metrics to measure against is an evolution. The most important thing is to hit the ones that are most necessary first, and then, once you do, be willing to add new metrics to measure new goals. You’ll find that this is the secret to creating the life that you want to live.