How to Keep Stats from Draining Your Soul

IMG_4502My dad recently gave me this t-shirt as a small thank you for a project I did for him.  It perfectly summed up the difference between me and my dad, who is a retired sports journalist.  I am a numbers girl through and through.

I am fascinated by the way numbers interact. I love to find patterns in the way one action can affect multiple results.   I could spend hours filtering, sorting, graphing, analyzing.  What most people do in a document, I do in a spreadsheet. (For the life of me, I have no idea why anyone would ever create a table in Word instead of Excel!)

Take a #StatSabbatical to focus on your purpose, reclaim your time and build relationshipsSo when I started my online business, it was only natural for me to be drawn to all the numbers.  Everything comes with Analytics!! Whoooo Hooooo!!

BUT (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) it didn’t take long for curiosity to give way to obsession and I found myself checking the stats several times a day. Not just traffic stats for my site, but looking at sites that give comparative rankings, plotting income over time, comparing my social media followers to someone else.  For a numbers geek like me, it was like putting Johnny Manziel in the middle of the French Quarter on Mardi Gras.  I just.can.not.help.myself.

In an environment where page views equal legitimacy and email lists determine worth, the expectations can be crushing. I think David knew a thing or two about those expectations.

When David returned from the battle where he killed Goliath with a stone, the people were cheering and chanting in the streets.

Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of  thousands.  1 Samuel 18:7

First of all, the scripture does not say anything about David slaying tens of thousands at that point.  He slayed one.  Granted, it was a very big one.  But sometimes a little success breeds an expectation of even greater, immediate success.

When that success does not come, it drains my soul. When the post I was sure would go viral completely tanks.  When more people unsubscribe than subscribe. When ten people look at my Packages page and no one is interested.  On those days, I find myself reacting to this immediate feedback and desperately trying to “fix” whatever went wrong, or find one more place to promote my post, or add a fancier pop-up box.

You know what? It’s exhausting.  All those numbers can be good indicators of progress or areas where I need to focus on improving, but they don’t need to dictate what I do with my time every day.

What lessons can we learn from David about the expectations of numbers?

Stats are not a good measure of my purpose

My goal is not to have 500,000 people view my website every month.  My goal is to help creative Christians move their God-sized dream from vision to action.  Google Analytics can’t measure that movement.  Instead, if I get my head out of the spreadsheets, I can focus on providing helpful content, more resources and find better solutions to the problems you have.

David was keenly aware that his purpose not to slay people, but was to be king.  He had been anointed for that purpose and was waiting to be appointed.  Although Saul sent David on many missions and David had great success, he always returned to the house of Saul, where his true purpose lay.

Have you lost sight of your purpose mixed up in all the numbers? Whether in a time of success or disappointment, how can your return your focus to your purpose?

 

Stats are a time-suck

Maybe you can glance at your stats and think, “Oh, that’s nice info” and then go about your day.  But I can’t.  Once I get started, I can easily waste an hour just clicking around looking at stuff. And before I know it, I’m rushing to finish a post or a project and I know it’s not my best work.

While people around him were counting up slain heads, David was busy getting his work done.  He was playing his lyre in Saul’s house “as he usually did.”

How much time are you wasting looking at stats?  Could you condense and focus to use your time for more productive activities?

Stats don’t measure relationships

While stats can be encouraging when they are growing, they don’t reflect the strength of our relationships. And strong relationships are key to growing any kind of ministry or business.

Rather than chasing after the “tens of thousands”, David was more concerned with growing a few key relationships.  He befriended Saul’s son Jonathan, married Saul’s daughter Michal, and developed as a leader that troops loved to serve.

Who can you build relationships with?  Not just people who can advance you, but people who you can serve and help?

 

A funny thing happened while David was focused on his purpose as a servant of Saul, doing his work and building relationships.

David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known. 1 Samuel 18:30

The same can be true of us.  If we spend more time doing what God called us to do instead of obsessing over numbers, God will define success in new ways for us and make us known as girls after God’s own heart.

So, I’m taking a #StatSabbatical. Wanna join me?  For one week, I’m not looking at any stats.  I’m following God’s leading on where I need to spend my time, not where I might get a few more page views. If you’ll accept the #StatSabbatical Challenge, comment below.  Then join me at this Facebook event on Monday, April 25 at 8pm Central Time.  We’ll all check our stats for the first time together and no matter what the numbers say, we’ll celebrate what God has done this week.

 

RESOURCES

This article may be the 10-step program you need:

Ten Tips for Stats Addicts

Join the Do A New Thing newsletter and let’s beat our addiction together!

RESPOND

Let us know in the comments if you are taking the #StatSabbatical Challenge!

 

Linking up with Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Jaime Weibel at #SittingAmongFriends, Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus and Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth

18 thoughts on “How to Keep Stats from Draining Your Soul

    • Stepping away occasionally is a good thing. Hard to do, but gives you a new perspective on what is important and what makes a difference. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Oh my goodness this is so good Christa! It’s easy to fall into this trap of measuring success by numbers. Especially when everything on social media is telling us how to grow our numbers. I love that you reminded us that we can lose site of our purpose in the stats. Wise words!

  2. Love this! It is so easy to obsess over the numbers and it really does way on me mentally when a post doesn’t do as well as I’d thought or when I’m having a slower week. I try to remember that it’s not about the numbers and I’ve often told my hubby that if I start writing just to get the numbers, I’ll end up burning out and losing sight of my vision. Count me in on the stat sabbatical challenge!:)

  3. Love this: “My goal is not to have 500,000 people view my website every month. My goal is to help creative Christians move their God-sized dream from vision to action.”

    Yes! Thanks for this call to ministry-orientation!

  4. You are so right about this…the idol of numbers is a compelling one. I love the idea of a StatSabbatical! I actually don’t check stats much because I really don’t have any to check, but I know the lure of that miserable Facebook “like” number. Maybe I should take a “Like Leave”? 😉 Pinning to my “Bloggy Stuff” board…glad to find you today via Sitting Among Friends!

  5. Great Post Christa,
    I have been taking these breaks throughout the weekend. I feel like I constantly need to be on top of this and I feel like my kiddos need me. It is nice out and they want to play and so I have been pulling away. I see some stats that are not up where they usually are but my kids and I are happier hanging out when my attention doesn’t have things on the back burner. It feels great. We need this. God has given me so much and continues to bless my little area of the online world. It is definitely something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Thank you for sharing with us at Sitting Among Friends on Wednesdays!

  6. Great post!!

    I find that I can get bogged down with feelings of, “Is blogging really worth my time, if no one is really reading my posts”. But then I remind myself that is the enemy trying to take me away from God’s work and I try to focus on the fact that if even just one person has been effected by a post of mine and God has been glorified than it is INDEED worth my time.

    I liked your statement,
    “While stats can be encouraging when they are growing, they don’t reflect the strength of our relationships. And strong relationships are key to growing any kind of ministry or business.”

    I also liked the Scriptural illustration you used adding even more insight to your blog post.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Christa. It’s so easy to get swept away by the numbers (good or bad!) I think at my ideal state, I can see them as an indication of what is working and what I need to adjust. But at a low state, it’s easy to try to find my identity in what they reflect back to me. Thank-you for your insight!

  8. So much wisdom here! I believe it’s a constant battle for faith bloggers to keep stats in their proper place. It’s important for us to be good stewards of our platforms, and analytics can play a significant role in that endeavor. But you hit the nail on the head when you pointed out the things stats can’t measure. There’s much power in reaching a single person for the glory of God, and as along as we’re pursuing His will for us, we can be free to tell Google Analytics to take a hike! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!

    • Thanks for visiting, Jennifer! You are so right. Each one of those little ticks and clicks represents a heart that can draw closer to God. Blessings to you!

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