Outcome Measures

For the last week at work there has been an ongoing battle to finish paperwork related to outcome measures. This has even caused fights among our usually very polite and professional colleagues. Apparently, the higher ups say there will be a “surprise” audit any day now and we need to make sure our files are 100% perfect.

This is kind of amusing but mostly agitating because what we do is not objective work, and, in fact, is extremely subjective, so this paperwork that has to be completed really is totally meaningless. The only thing that comes of it, as far as I can tell, is that it creates more jobs because someone has to review the paperwork to make sure it is correct and complete.

But without measurable outcomes, how are things defined? Think about it: we measure how long it takes a baby to roll over, to babble, to walk so we can say this baby is progressing at a fast/slow/average pace. We measure the baby’s head and follow their growth chart to know what percentile he/she fits into. We test the crap out of kids throughout school so the teachers and the school itself can say, see, we are doing our job, or, wow, these kids are falling behind. We break down hockey games to shots on goal, actual goals then measure further by looking at if the goal was scored on a power play or short handed then look at how many pucks the goalie stopped. Life seems to be defined by these measures.

So where the heck am I going with this? It occurred to me while running this morning that all my life things have been quite measurable: scores at gymnastics meets, grades in school, SAT scores, MCAT scores, weekly mileage, marathon times, years with my husband. All really great things but I realized that this has lead to a real rigidity. And fatigue. I’m tired of the measuring. Somehow I come up with rules like, if I’m going for a run I should be out at least an hour (or it’s not worth it). Or, if I had meat at lunch, I should have veggies for dinner. Silly things, sure, but I think it makes it hard for me to be spontaneous a lot of the time.

I was reading the paper last weekend and started flipping through the Parade magazine (have you seen how ridiculously small it has gotten over the years?). The first section always has these (mostly) dumb questions about celebrites and many times a tongue-in-cheek style answer. But this one caught my eye:

Q: How is motivational guru Dr. Wayne Dyer doing since being diagnosed with cancer?
A: “It’s chronic lymphocytic leukemia, not life-threatening, and it’s been a great blessing in my life. We’re all infinite spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. Find that within yourself.”

Wow. Morbid question but a beautiful, brilliant answer. I have never heard of Dr. Dyer but his comment has stuck with me.

Since reading that, I’ve tried to work on being less rigid. On Wednesday I only ran for 52 minutes (had to get to work). Instead of feeling like I had to finish my run later on, I decided that 52 minutes was enough for the day and that I’d rather spend my time talking with hubs and cooking dinner. If I’m having a temporary human experience, I don’t want to waste it because I’m too busy measuring everything.

There is also a real existential component to this for me. I’ve cleared all of the hurdles (but one, really) that I set as goals for myself–I have a great relationship, solid career and have seen a lot of the world already. Now what? If I’m not measuring something, how will I know if I’m reaching my goals. For now, my goal is to enjoy the life that I have, love my family and friends, cheer on my beloved Red Wings and live in the moment. Forget about the measuring for a while and just let the outcome be.

I’ve been drinking Yogi tea in the mornings lately and have come to look forward to the fortune cookie-style nugget of wisdom stapled on each tea bag.

The best way of life is to be, simply be.


1 Comment

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One response to “Outcome Measures

  1. So much I could say on this post, as it’s very insightful and something I think about alot (probably not a surprise, eh?) Anyway, love Yogi tea, mostly for the tag of wisdom.

    But about measurements–I am also very into having an end result and find it hard to do things “just because.” How people can just splash around in a pool without doing laps, go for a leisurely bike ride without trying to make it a workout, not care what their score was on something (or how much they’ve eaten, for example) etc. still baffles me. However, I have come to realize that the things that can’t be measured are actually the things I end up enjoying the most.

    While you can count the years you’ve been with your husband, you can’t count the depth of the memories, for example. Emotions really can’t be put into nice little measurable categories, and really…do we think anyone cares what we got on our SAT a million years ago? Nope. Sometimes I think we just have to do things because…because we want to, because it looks new and fun, because it CAN’t be measured (or if it could, we would suck at it, so it’s better not to take note.) Just enjoy it just because…

    Go Wings!

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