Monday Motivator: Don’t Hate Data

In his book Finish, Jon Acuff tells the story of a guy who’s trying to lose the weight. The man is quite discouraged because the pounds are not coming off. Now that he’s in his forties, he bemoans that it’s just harder to lose weight than it once was.

Acuff is skeptical. Memories are slippery things, and we humans like to give ourselves every excuse possible for not achieving our goals. I have to agree. I have known some folks for more than twenty years, and they’ll talk about that wonderful time in the past when weight loss was easy. And I don’t say anything (because, generally, I don’t like getting punched), but I’m thinking when was this mystical time? When you were a fetus?

Acuff’s answer. Use data. Now don’t tune out here. He’s not saying that we need to do complicated statistical analyses every time we set a goal. But we do need to use the information available to us.

If we want to lose weight, then let’s track how many calories we’re eating per day and the amount of exercise we’re doing. We’re probably going to find that our weight has more to do with those two things than with our age.

If we want to retire with enough money to go on a trip around the world, we need to check how much money we’re spending and how much we’re contributing to a retirement fund. And based on that information, we need to make changes or decide that a trip is not in our future.

It’s not hard to use data. But be forewarned. Data can be a bit of a buzz kill. It makes you live in the real world.

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