We live in a world where numbers provide us with internal and external validation.

Salary figures = importance of job.
Klout scores = supposed amount of online influence.
% Unemployment = how well the economy is doing.
Number of “top XXX” lists you’re on = how well YOU are doing.

Figures, figures, figures – they’re everywhere.

Last week, I was rolling out CloudFlare (a fantastically cool service all website owners should check out), and for convoluted reasons I ended up digging into a lot of my pageview figures across my network of sites.

I was a bit flabbergasted (gotta love that word) to see that in 2011, my little media empire surpassed 2 million pageviews.  2,024,108 views to be exact.   While many sites get that easily in a month, I’m very happy to see such growth in the past year in my little Internet pocket.

But this number is virtually meaningless, except for inflating my ego.

This 2.024 million pageviews sounds MASSIVE, and it sounds like I should be rolling in the dough.  But actually, that’s a misconception; let’s say I got what would be a typical payout,  $5 per one thousand impressions (this is how most ad networks calculate their payouts), which would mean I would net just over $10,000 for a year’s worth of traffic.

Thankfully, I made a lot more than that, and probably spent more than ten grand getting there. 🙂

Tick Tock. Time's a Wastin'.

My point: the numbers that are important are near impossible to count —  and many people don’t even know the important ones.

For me, it was fun to know this number (does this mean I’m now a millionaire?), and sure, just like those top XX lists and other scores, it can provide some validation and trust factor to someone who doesn’t know my business.  But otherwise it’s a relatively useless number.

You have to know what numbers are important to you.  For me, some numbers are easy, and some numbers are hard.

  • Number of hours working versus number of hours enjoying family/friends time.
  • Amount of profit I made last month that I can spend this month on fun stuff
  • How many days/months/years do I have left to enjoy life?
That last one is a nail biter, but since I don’t have any control over it, I don’t worry too much about it.

Most people spend way too much damn time looking at numbers that don’t matter.
Are you clear about the numbers that matter to you?