Now that we’re past Labor Day, you won’t be hearing “How’s your summer?” anymore. Sorry. We’re moving full steam ahead into the past tense now.
So, prep your answer: Did you have a great summer? You have a few options.
- Try “Yes, thanks. How was yours?”
- Share a random anecdote about something that happened.
- Offer a scientifically appropriate response based on measurable data.
You’ve been hearing that we should all be measuring what matters, keeping track of stats rather than relying on anecdotes. We talk about customer experience metrics, employee engagement scores — but can we do the same for summer?
Define your terms
Let’s be scientific about this. When’s summer?
- K12 summer: The whole time school is closed.
- Astronomical summer: From summer solstice to autumnal equinox — that’s June 21 to September 23, 2019.
- Common summer: Memorial Day to Labor Day
- Marketing summer: From spring break to back-to-school
It’s tricky to measure or analyze if you don’t have anything to measure against. Maybe you dove into summer with a hope of swimming every day. Maybe you dreamed of sleeping more. While setting goals might go against the carefree summer stereotype, they would definitely help with the measurement side of things.
Wait — are you saying that you didn’t sit down and map out SMART goals for your summer? Okay, maybe it’s too late for this summer, but what about the next?
For example, to start with: I’ll visit the farmers market twice a month.
Specific? Well, there are plenty of farmers markets around here. So, Reston? Still plenty. Lake Anne!
Measurable? One, two.
Achievable? Okay, now I’m adding in “on average”, just in case.
Relevant? I guess so. It’s good exercise, good food, and
Timely? May to November — let’s narrow it down.
During the 2019 Lake Anne Farmers Market season, I’ll visit the market twice a month on average.
Not fun, but at least it’s a goal, so it’ll be easier to figure out if I succeed. 😉
How can we measure?
Hash marks. No, not hashtags. Just those little lines turning into groups of five, like we see in movies on cave walls and prison cells. In other words, just count. Maybe it’s a post-it on the page of each new recipe you tried. Maybe it’s just miles on your odometer.
Analytics tools. Seriously? Sure. How many apps do you have on your phone that track your steps, your weight, your sleep, your every little detail — ? While I’ve always enjoyed a good night’s sleep, it’s hard to say whether all of the tracking information my bed delivers to my phone changes my perception. Still, so interesting.
Let’s get visual. Make a checklist of everything you want to do. Make a map of all the places you want to visit — or a mind map of all the topics you want to write about. Post a calendar of daily workout goals on your fridge and cross them out as you get them done.
Achieving goals is great. Having fun is pretty good, too. Just like measuring is easier with goals, measuring success is easier when you define targets.
If I tell you I went to 20 yoga classes, is that great?
If I tell you he hasn’t smoked for 20 days, is that great?
If I say she went on 20 roller coasters, is that great?
It depends. What was the starting point? What was the goal? Does she like roller coasters? Tricky.
Measure what matters
Is it important to have a scientifically valid and project-managed answer to questions about whether you had a great summer? It is absolutely not.
Is it interesting to observe that we consistently fail to set goals, metrics, and success measures while simultaneously expecting to make improvements? Absolutely.
Maybe measuring makes a huge difference in making improvements. Maybe setting goals has a clear impact on your continued growth. But that’s not what summer is about. Summer is about doing cool stuff. Summer is about friends and family and nature. S’more than you can measure.
Still, hey — I hope you had a great summer. I know I did. Just don’t ask me how I know. 🙂