I have realized that life is truly a numbers game. It is wonderful to look at all the numbers of your life and see where you stand versus where you want to be. In a recent BBC documentary they talked about people living longer. You know what the three main things all of the people living long had in common. They moved a lot, they had regular medical checkups and finally they had a good diet. So it is really that simple unless we have any major health complications which requires specific measures to be taken but in general we have some control over how long we can live barring major unforeseen circumstances.
As they say the numbers tell the whole truth. Here are the areas where I like to review the numbers in my life. It is a true honest self-appraisal and I believe self-knowledge is the precursor to all success. I surely don’t get all of this right all the time but I try my best. Here are the 5 life numbers I like to track.
Sleep – This is so important that I want to put it at the top of the heap. Measure the number of hours you sleep. 7 hours at a minimum is a must so if you are not getting enough sleep see which activities you must stop to get the extra sleep. You may have to forego some activities to get this sleep in. However, this is an absolute must if you want to get the most out of yourself. Yes few people are good with five hours of sleep but a lot of research coming out is clear that 7-8 hours is an absolute must for optimal performance. We can use weekends to catch up on some sleep as well. I recently read the Jeff Bezos likes to get 8 hours of sleep to ensure his decision making is good.
Exercise – Barring any health conditions you need to see how much exercise you are getting on a weekly basis. Again, if this means sleeping a little earlier so that you can exercise first thing in the morning then you can do that. Or if this means taking 30 min during lunch to get that exercise routine in you can do that. Irrespective of whatever situation we are in we can get this done provided it is a priority. Every single study coming out clearly shows that any form of exercise improves mood, longevity and health. So, let’s get our exercise genes in action. A simple walk for 20 min is also great after lunch. This is easy to say but very difficult to maintain as it has to be a lifestyle change. Even if we exercise 7 days a week the next day starts again. So it is the sheer consistency that matters here. We will not get acknowledged for working out so it is better we acknowledge ourselves when we are doing what we set out to do. This will keep us motivated for the long haul.
Health – Yearly checkups have now become common place and it is good to get our health report. This is a great measure and the results show us the areas we need to pay attention to. Usually the insurance covers this so getting this done is a great vote for your best life. At the same time dental checkups once a year is another thing that is easily neglected. However overall dental health has proven to improve overall health. We do feel better when we know where we stand with respect to our unique situation and then take the necessary action to improve it further.
Education – How many hours per week do you spend investing in yourself. It has really been never so easy to learn anything you want. Of course, you should be selective in your knowledge as there are tons of podcasts or books. What I do is review the NY times best sellers and then go through business section first. I choose the books that interest me and of course neglect the ones which I can’t connect with. Then I move into the non-fiction category. I also go through the books recommended by Adam Grant for example. The key is to upgrade your input. Education begins after you end school. Of course connect with experts in your field, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts, read their books, document what you learn and share what you learn. This will keep you engaged throughout and there will be no room for boredom or worry. Again reading has been found to reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease and has a lot of benefits including the reduction of stress.
Relaxation – How many days of vacation do you take per year. Are you completely relaxed when you are off? How many hours per week do you dedicate to relaxation. This can be as simple as taking time for doing things you like. Even allocating 2 hours per week for this is great to renew yourself. Some of the ideas could be taking up a hobby you like, exercising, yoga, reading, writing or anything else you like. Relaxation in the busy times we live in is the key to maintaining high energy as we navigate through long careers.
The point is to look at each of these areas and focus on those where you need to make some changes. If we do measure the numbers we will feel a greater sense of control and peace. We will also feel we are making progress in our lives which leads to joy.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.