You can’t measure your worth by a number

How to find value in more than just your weight, finances, and career milestones
Published January 21, 2020

How often do you measure your value based on numbers? Your weight? Your bank account balance? The number of degrees you have or don’t have? It’s easy to do this, in fact many of us probably do it without even realizing it. But the truth is, you can’t measure your worth by just a number. So how do we shift our mindsets to start measuring the things we value in life – and about ourselves – that aren’t numbers-based?


“The key to this whole conversation is personal celebration,” says Sara Hodson, founder and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic.


She explains this is something that many of us find difficult because while we’re often good at celebrating others, we tend to downplay our own achievements. She uses the example of celebrating birthdays to illustrate this – how often has your birthday come around and you’ve said something along the lines of, “It’s no big deal” or “I don’t really celebrate my birthday” or “It’s just another day”?


“We need to spotlight ourselves,” says Hodson. The key to doing this is finding little wins every day – no matter how small – that we can be proud of. At LIVE WELL, members do this together as a group at the end of every workout session, but Hodson says we can all find ways to do this on our own, we just need to find a system that works for us.


Here are a few ideas:


  • Think about things that are beyond the scale, beyond the paycheque. Think about how you feel today. Think about the fact that you showed up for a workout class, when perhaps in the past you would skip it. Think about a kind thing you did for someone else.
  • Write in your journal each day about the things you’re proud of.
  • Mark wins on your calendar.
  • Tell a friend or family member.
  • Share it on social media.


“I think it’s human nature to be outcomes-focused,” Hodson says. But by finding “the positive in our actions” we can shift out of the “vicious cycle of being so numbers-focused.”


A crucial component of doing that is focusing on that word “actions.” There are many things we don’t have complete control over, Hodson explains, but we do have control over our behaviours and our choices. And that’s where we can celebrate tangible successes – by taking note of the positive behaviours and choices we make that impact our health and well-being.


Jordan Bishop, the founder of Canadian personal finance and travel website Yore Oyster, approaches the concept of measuring our worth from a financial perspective.


Measuring your worth by your bank account balance is an easy trap to fall into


“Your bank account balance is an easy-to-track metric that feels like it’s tracking your success,” says Bishop. “But it’s important to remember that what we love about money is not the money itself, but the freedom and emotional lightness that money allows. When you realize that you can achieve much of that freedom without having the money first, that’s real wisdom.”


The key to thinking less about the numbers, Bishop says, “is to stop focusing on what you have and start focusing on who you’re being. When you're being the person you want to be – someone generous, loving and happy – all of the money in the world doesn’t matter. There are plenty of people without a penny to their name who live far happier, more fulfilled lives than the millionaires next door.”


How do you shift your focus?


So how do you start focusing more on the person you’re being? Bishop suggests making a plan.


“Write down the emotions you want to feel, and the way you want to interact with others. Next, commit to being that way just for one day. Try it out and see how you feel. In most cases, you’ll find that being the person you want to be is much simpler than you expected, and that you want to keep it up in the days that follow. What’s even more surprising, though, is that your thirst for money will see a similarly impressive decline. When you teach your body that who you’re being is more important than what you have, you’re well along the path to eliminating your finances as the dominant metric of your self-worth.”


You can still measure numbers – just do it in a positive way


Hodson points out that if you are someone who is really numbers-focused, you can still measure your wins in numbers, but you can do it in a more positive way than focusing on what the scale says or what your credit card statements look like.


She gives the example of packing homemade lunches to take to work. If you currently never do that, or do it just a couple times a week, you could set a goal to do that three times a week and then eventually every day. That’s a measurable goal – based on behaviours and choices – that you can easily track, on your calendar for example, to see your progress.


Other things you can measure are your energy and mood before you start a workout. LIVE WELL members rate these factors on a scale of one to 10, and then rate them again after the workout is over. You can do the same thing yourself, in a notebook or on  your phone, and track your progress over time to see how working out affects your energy levels and how good you feel.