The metrics addiction

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

Hi, my name is André and I’m an addict.

Growth. Productivity. Reach.

If you’re on Medium (which, if you are reading this, you are), I guarantee that you’ve read something about them.

And that’s fine, I suppose. I know I still read far more on the subject than I actually need to, and for that matter than is healthy. And in doing so, I’ve began to notice something about myself.

I’m addicted to metrics.

It’s validation you can count.

In fact, I’m so addicted to them that I turned one of my Instagram accounts (yes, I have more than one for personal stuff) into a business account for the numbers.

I love to see the little numbers telling me what I did. And I know I’m not the only one.

I mean, come on! It’s validation you can count! Everyone loves that!

Now I am by no means even remotely popular. I’ve got 51 followers on my public Instagram account, with only 28 likes on my most-liked photo.

So it’s not like I’m basking in glory over here. And still, I continue to post just to see what those numbers will say next.

Heck, even while I write this post I’m thinking about what my metrics are going to be. Will it get views? Will people clap? Will it be my best piece yet or will it bomb?

Now sure, every writer thinks this while writing. But I don’t even see the people.

I see little green numbers. A chart with green little bars on it. A ranking of things I’ve done that people liked better than this.

I mean sure, I love to write. But I’m also very, very lazy. Curiosity about the numbers is what brings me back again and again.

And this is a problem. Sure, it’s a great motivator. But it’s also my greatest source of stress. Everything I do make me wonder “how will this affect my metrics?”.

And if something doesn’t have metrics, it makes me fussy, and wonder why I’m doing it at all.

The need for being always on, always checking on growth, always racing to reach those at the top is incredibly harmful. Not to mention counter-productive.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this. Yet it’s a conundrum. I want to be better at what I do. The way to do that is to track my progress.

But at the same time I know that if I do it for the numbers, my work will suffer, my metrics will go down, and my sense of accomplishment will disappear.

The instant gratification metrics allow us also makes it clear how easy it is to loose the “approval” we so desperately seek. And that is stressful.

Without metrics, it’s a lost harder to know how you are progressing, but you also worry less. You know that things take time. There’s nothing to pressure you into needing immediate greatness.

It’s much easier to feel comfortable with taking your time to raise a great following when you aren’t worried about the five people that stopped following you this morning. I mean sure, you got a few more with your last post, but “WHY DON’T THEY LOVE YOU?”.

Lasting growth will always follow the work.

In an attempt to figure it out you start to dig through your numbers, trying to find a formula that gets you the best metrics. You start to cater to your numbers instead of doing you. Before you notice, you have no more authenticity. And what was working so well just stops working at all.

You begin to see your metrics drop and wonder why. After all, you found the perfect formula right? Then you start to wonder whether you were actually any good at all.

That leads to all kind of bad stuff. All because you were chasing numbers instead of bettering yourself.

Truthfully, I don’t know what the solution is. I’m trying to figure it out myself. So I guess I’ll finish with something cliché we all know.

Use metrics wisely. It’s nice to know how things are going, but make sure that growth isn’t your main goal. At least not reach growth. Definitely not productivity growth.

Always take care that you work gets better and better, even if your metrics aren’t where you’d like them yet. Lasting growth will always follow the work. And in the end, that’s the only thing that matters.

So I guess the takeaway from this is, don’t worry so much about the numbers. Especially if you are just starting out. Focus on the quality of your work and the rest will come.

And if you still need a better indicator of how you are doing, look at your interactions with others. If you are doing well, your followers WILL tell you. If not, well, no one will tell you, but because you won’t have any interactions at all.


Hey, thanks for reading. I hope this piece was helpful, and that I’ll catch you again. Have a great day! :)