What to keep track of

You change your entire outlook, and your chances of success, by just changing what you keep track of.

Many of the students I’ve met who are stressed, unhappy, and generally negative about their journey from high school to college are paying attention only to those things that support those outlooks. They’ll talk about the teacher who supposedly doesn’t like them, the student they believe didn’t deserve to edge them out for entrance into an AP class, the politics of the baseball team, and the problems they find with their school. They track (and blame someone else) every time they come up short. They remember every unlucky break. It’s them against the world, the odds are stacked against them, and none of it is their fault.

It’s not that all of their observations are necessarily untrue. But what they’ve chosen to track is clearly changing their outlook.

What if instead, they tracked the opposite?

What if they noticed their great teachers, the smart and interesting students they have the good fortune to learn with, the comradery of the baseball team, and the good parts of their school?

What if they paid more attention to every one of their successes, every lucky break, and every time a friend, family member, or teacher extended a hand to help them?

What if they owned every failure and used it not as an opportunity to blame, but one to learn from, something that could make them smarter, more resilient, and more likely to succeed the next time?

What you keep track of becomes what you expect more of. And what you expect more of often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Some disappointments and setbacks are the real thing. But many more are not. If what you’ve come to expect is not making you happy and fulfilled, the quickest way to change your outcomes might be to change what you keep track of.