Anti Self-Quantification

Don’t quantify yourself, or your “progress” in your life.

What is “progress”?

Is the notion of progress important? What does “progress” even mean?

Progress as comparison

When we think about “progress”, we think about comparing two states.

For example if you could lift 100 pounds, then if next week you could lift 105 pounds, that is “progress” (an additional 5 pounds).

Apparently society “progresses” when there is a reduction of poverty, increased income for individuals, and more money saved in their bank accounts.

The question I’m curious about is this:

Can we live a happy and productive life without thinking about the notion of “progress”?

I think so! Let me advance my thinking:

You still technically “progress”, even though you don’t measure it

Let us assume that you do chin-ups for fun. You never count your repetitions. You just keep doing them until you cannot do anymore.

Let us assume you do chin-ups everyday for a year, and you eat lots of eggs and bacon on the daily.

I assume that your ability to do chin-ups will “progress” without you tracking your workouts or repetitions. Certainly your arm muscles will “progress” by getting bigger.

Thus, it is obvious that (at least physically), we can progress in our strength without tracking or measuring it.

Can life be quantified?

There is currently a “quantified self” movement, in which people try to quantify their self-worth and progress in life via numbers, metrics, and “change over time”.

But to me, this is nonsense. Why?

Just because someone weighs more or less than you doesn’t make them “better” than you. Just because someone earns more money than you, it doesn’t mean you are any “lesser” than them. Just because someone has more social media followers than you doesn’t mean they’re a better photographer, or a better artist.

The big problem is this:

Many people seek motivation in life via seeing their numbers advance, to see their progress in “fact”.

Yet, I think this is a bad way of thinking, because it ultimately means that numbers are more important than your own personal (unquantifiable) desires, needs, and ambitions. Of the things in life that really matter, you cannot (and should not) attach a number to it. Would you “quantify” your love for your partner or child? Obviously not. Would you want to “quantify” how delicious food is by measuring the temperature of the meat? Obviously not.

Would you “quantify” the wisdom of someone by some arbitrary metric? Of course not!

Eliminate the word “progress” from our dictionary

My simple takeaway is this:

Don’t quantify your progress in life.

Even more dramatic, don’t even think about “progress”. Just eliminate the word from your vocabulary (via negativa notion of success).

Instead, just focus on the present moment. Be concentrated and focused every moment during your day to act in accordance with what you desire to do, achieve, and create in your life!