There are a million ways to measure a day. Productivity is only one of them. It’s a valid one, but it’s an overrated default.
Why? Productivity is a handy metric – it makes our day feel quantifiable. Itemized lists that we slay with tick marks. A full inbox that we wipe clean. Box-ticking and inbox-mastery make it easy to measure our efforts and make us feel like our day adds up to something.
Here’s the dark side of achievement: The truth is, for many of us, achievement is a self-soothing mechanism. Productivity and achievement are cheap and convenient fillers, ways to top up our cup of self-worth.
Box-ticking temporarily pads out the hollows of our self-worth, laying a thin coat of worthiness on top of an abyss of emptiness (that vast, pervasive fear of I’m-not-enough.)
While I’m all for being focused and making the most of our days, I think we could all use a reminder that productivity isn’t the only way to measure a day – or, more to the heart of the matter, to measure our self-worth.
So I present for your consideration, a list of eleven less convenient (but more meaningful) ways to measure our days:
- Presence: How present were you with the people you spent your day with? Did you listen well? Did you look them in the eye? Did you put down your phone when they were speaking to you? Did you find opportunities to single-task and make presence your primary focus?
- Service: Were you of service to others in some way? Did you show up for someone? Did you offer something? Did you give a gift or buy a coffee or lend a shoulder or rub a back? Did you volunteer your ear or make a meal or carry a bag of groceries? And how about you? Did you do something in service of your soul or your own self-care?
- Gratitude: How much was there to be grateful for? What went well? What was beautiful? What was nourishing? What did you appreciate? Make a list.
- Connection: Did you have moments of true connection and intimacy with other humans? With yourself? Were you vulnerable and available?
- Courage: How much of your day was spent staying true to yourself? Did you prioritize your authenticity? Did you speak up? Did you put yourself out there? Did you stretch yourself and get outside of your comfort zone?
- Truth: How clearly did you speak your truth? Did you honour the truths of others? Did you see the truth in a situation, regardless of whether it was in disagreement with your preferences or personal comfort?
- Empathy: Did you find occasion to put yourself in someone else’s shoes (especially before jumping to conclusions)? Did you consider the perspectives of others?
- Forgiveness: Did you forgive yourself well and often? Did you put petty bullshit to bed and forgive others fully?
- Recognition: Did you tell someone how much you care about them? How they made a difference in your day? How much they matter? Did you feel loved? Did you feel seen? Did you seize every opportunity to recognize others? Were you recognized by others in ways big or small today?
- Generosity: Did you share what you have? Did you leave a fat tip? Did you go the extra mile? Did you give your gifts?
- Joy: Fuck yeah, joy! How many hidden treasures of happiness did you unearth today? How many milliseconds of bliss? How many moments of remembering your freedom, your agency and the big fucking stroke of luck you had just by being born? DId you laugh (ideally at your own jokes)? Did you crack a smile? Tally up the joy.
That’s the way to measure a life that matters.
UPDATE! So many of you asked for a print of this… and your wish is my command. Pin it on your fridge, tape it to your bathroom mirror or tack it up at your desk. It’s pretty damn beautiful. Download it here.