30 days: Day 26 – More than numbers

Friday, July 22, 2011 Permalink

Today’s blogging challenge topic, More than numbers, is another particularly challenging one for me cos I’m all about the numbers. I try not to be and have written about my good intentions in: A numbers game; and The scales of judgement. In both posts I talked about my life being ruled by the numbers on the scale. As if nothing else I’ve done matters. Even if I’ve eaten well and exercised, if the results don’t show on the scales, I’m a failure. And devastated. Even though I know better.

Our lives include so many numbers. Numbers on the scale, numbers in our bank account, number of designer clothes in our closets, number of activities we participate in, number of calories we eat or workouts we complete, number of Facebook friends, number of page views. Sometimes we fall into the trap of  allowing the numbers to define our lives and our worth.

We get discouraged that we don’t make as much money as someone else. We see a number on the scale and it determines our mood for the day. We constantly check in on stats as a way to verify ourselves. We doubt ourselves in comparison to others for not doing as much.

Numbers can start as a tool to help us reach certain goals. For example, to run a marathon you have to track mileage to adequately prepare yourself. When working to lose weight, counting calories can help progress. When keeping up with a budget, we must track the numbers in our bank accounts. Numbers do serve a purpose. They can help us achieve certain tasks. Yet often they can also create a slippery slope for our self-esteem to slide down.

We need to stop using numbers as a measuring stick for who we are. You can’t put love for others on a scale. You can’t put passion in a bank account. You can’t put fun and enjoyment on a tally sheet. You can’t put friendship in a spreadsheet. We must look past numbers and to the bigger picture of what makes up our lives.

Have you ever been stuck in a number trap? What could you have focused on instead of the numbers?

I’ve already talked about my obsession with the numbers on the bathroom scales, but Tina’s challenge raises some interesting points. I forget about the impact that OTHER numbers have on my life.

In this blog I’ve talked about my ‘envy’ issues and the fact that I’m kinda happy with my ‘lot’ in life until I look across at someone else and decide that what they have is better, or what they do is more. And I DO compare the numbers in my salary to those in other people’s… So I guess my obsession with numbers is broader than those that measure weight.

ABACUS DIAGONALI agree with Tina that numbers – as measures of progress when striving for goals – are important. Many argue that one can only measure performence in terms of quantity, rather than finding qualitative measures. But I can’t help but wonder why I worry more about some more than others. Why, for example, do the numbers on the scales affect me more than those on the tape measure. Why don’t I care about the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers I do or don’t have; but worry about the statistics on my blogs?

When I first started this blog – over a year ago – it was meant to represent some sort of cathartic diary for me. Nobody read it. None of my friends knew about it. (In fact while some of them now know I have this blog none of them know the details etc). Once upon a time I’d be surprised when one or two people read my blog posts. Similarly with my other (more mainstream) blog, I’d get a reader or two and would be esctatic. WOW… someone had read what I’d written! Someone was reading my thoughts!

website trafficNow this blog has more readers. Not hundreds or thousands and mostly not even dozens, but more than the one or two it used to have. I check my number of hits each day and feel a little thrill of excitement if the numbers are good – as if the numbers are a measure of my success and worth. And if the numbers good aren’t I feel disappointed and wonder why. Was my topic boring? Was it badly written? Or – worse still (because I hate doing it) – did I not promote it enough?

Suddenly something I enjoyed doing is fraught with performance anxiety and judgement. And I find myself starting to ponder my audience as I write, rather than writing from the heart and head, which has long been my focus.

Having to admit this (to all of those gazillions of readers out there) has actually reminded me that passion can be lost if it becomes forced or we put a value on it. So… the challenge ahead for me is NOT to worry about the numbers – in any aspect of my life – but just bloody well get on with the living!

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