Measure What Matters

Measure What Matters

For as long as I can remember, I have loved making lists and creating progress bars and star charts.

Something that is a visual representation of what I am striving for.

Many years ago, I went through a period where I felt that I wasn’t achieving ‘anything’.

I would get to the end of the day with so much still to be done.

I was struggling to cope, so I went and had a chat with a therapist who suggested the idea of a ‘done list’.

Hand-drawn earth showing Australia and Asia with a large footprint. Low Impact. Consume. Create.
Steampunk style cogs. Learning. Skills. Knowledge.
Hand-drawn image of a pocket watch face. Longevity. Health. Vitality.
Hand-drawn lotus flower from above. Lifestyle. Culture. Behaviour.
Stacks of colourful books

To-do list to done list

The basic idea is to write a simple to-do list for the day, then cross things off as you do them…and, if you do something that wasn’t on the list, you write it on and cross it off.

At the end of the day, you have a list of what you did achieve.

This is validation for your mind, that you did actually do something…

Once I started, I realised there was never a day when ‘nothing’ was achieved.

Low Impact stories by with a photo of a row of Google bicycles in the rain.
A group of friends preparing food as part of a cooking class at the Spirit House, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Longevity stories on Joy doing yoga on a sanddune in the Sahara Desert, near Merzouga, Morocco.
Lifestyle stories cover page with photo of a group of people on their way to surf. They are standing on the edge of a cliff with a view of the ocean and the village of Imsouane, Morocco behind them.

What I choose to spend time on

The process helped me to identify what I was doing with my time and then I was able to start to shift my focus, remove distractions, learn to say ‘no’, and prioritise the most important tasks.

Deciding what is important can be a challenge.

Competing priorities and the expectation of others can interfere with my thoughts. It takes great mental agility to be okay with doing what I feel is the most important when those around me feel differently.

Setting clear and measurable goals at the beginning of a project helps. Understanding why I am doing it…what is the purpose, really makes a difference.

I have been a fan of the OKR (Objective & Key Results) system for a few years now, and find that defining the objective and the key results helps me to keep focused. This doesn’t just apply to business decisions, I also use it for my personal life decisions as well.

Key Areas to Measure

As I have been thinking about our upcoming shift to a digital nomad lifestyle, I have been considering the purpose of such an adventure beyond “I want to see the world and experience different cultures”.

I want the experience to have much more meaning.

There are a few key areas that I want to pay particular attention to.

low impact




I am now in the phase of deciding what is the objective, and what are the key results…the things that can be measured, that will define the progress I am making and ultimately, whether I achieve the objective.

Being able to measure the activity and outcome and capture the data in a way that is simple to analyse and display is essential.

It is easy to get carried away and set dozens of measurables. Time has taught me that I am good at getting carried away with the excitement of setting goals…and then burning myself out to achieve them.

Why I Want to Measure my Objectives and Key Results

This time, I want to refine my thoughts back to come up with a few very impactful objectives, that have a clear purpose and can be measured easily and regularly. Creating a near real-time feedback loop will help me to stay motivated and focused. Sharing those with you all will keep me accountable.

In each of my focus areas, I am aware that I currently have a significant value-action gap. My belief in what is ‘good’ does not align with the actions that I take to be ‘good’. I am not alone here I realise, most people have a gap. I want to work on closing mine, so the ‘good action’ that I think about becomes my default behaviour.

My overarching objective is to determine if I can be a socially and environmentally responsible citizen while living a digital nomad lifestyle and improving my health and happiness. Can I ‘enjoy life’? 

A Purposeful Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Woman writing in a journal with a pencil

The following are my initial thoughts. They will require further consideration and clarification, but this is the starting point.

Low Impact

Objective: to reduce my consumption of electricity
Key result: the number of power points and light switches I have turned on, and for how long

Objective: to reduce my ‘food miles’ by choosing local produce over imported produce
Key result: the number of items that I purchase that came from more than 100km away

Objective: to reduce the amount of waste I dispose of
Key result: the number of items that go into the compost bin, recycle bin and the general waste bin

Objective: to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions I create in transit
Key result: the method and duration of transit (eg. 12hr flight, 1hr car, 6hr train)

As I currently do not know my starting point numbers for these, it is hard to set a specific result to aim for, so I will choose to measure for a week, and then set a reducing goal.


Objective: to improve my ability to complete tasks (tickets) in my day job without asking a colleague for assistance
Key result: the number of hours spent reading documentation and completing online courses/tutorials, and the number of times I ask a colleague for assistance

Objective: to gain a qualification to teach English as a foreign language
Key result: the number of hours spent completing a TEFL course and gaining the certification

Objective: to learn new skills (eg. surf, cook, play)
Key result: the number of lessons I attend, the number of times I practice and the number of times I succeed (eg. stand up on the board, prepare a new meal, play a new game)

Objective: to discover what problems exist in the local community that I could assist with providing a solution
Key result: the number of hours I spend volunteering/giving back to the local community

Joy Taylor hiking in the Pirin Mountains of Bulgaria. July 2022

Photo of Joy Taylor hiking in the Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria captured by David Masefield.

Dirt path between bright green rice terraces on the hillside of Tegallalang, Bali.

Photo of Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Bali, Indonesia captured by Joy Taylor.


Objective: to reduce my risk of weight-related disease and illness
Key result: my waist measurement and my weight

Objective: to reduce my risk of dementia and other cognitive deterioration
Key result: the number of processed foods I eat and the number of games/puzzles I play

Objective: to improve my social skills and make new friendships
Key result: the number of hours I spend with other people

Objective: to improve the condition of my physical body
Key result: the number of hours I sleep, the number of hours I exercise (yoga/run/strength), the number of hours I fast


Objective: {{ I added this topic later, so will need to define the lifestyle goals }}
Key result:

Stating my objectives and defining what I will measure is the first step.
Announcing them publicly is the second.
Measuring and monitoring are third.
The final step is then to make the necessary behaviour changes to see a shift in the numbers, and to move towards the objective.

It is a journey. The goal is not perfection. The goal is progress.

Four ladies laughing and smiling

Photo of Joy Taylor and friends enjoying life in Pokhara, Nepal.

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