Benchmarking is comparing or evaluating something to a standard. In the education system, for example, there are standardised tests such as the Matric Exams which are used to evaluate students, schools and areas.

The important thing is that these comparisons are done using significant volumes of data and a uniform method of measurement. It then makes sense to contrast different schools or districts which can then inform policy makers where to direct more attention or resources.

Personal benchmarking

We get so used to this system that we continue to subconsciously (or consciously) benchmark ourselves into our adult lives. There is so much that we want to compare, with questions such as:

  • How much is everyone earning?
  • Who is getting big positions/promotions?
  • What is the right age to marry? Why are some people getting married so young/old?
  • How much leave/holiday time are people getting compared to what I get?

These sort of questions jump out at us all the time. And when we hear someone has gotten more/ better than us we tend to think we’re doing badly.

The problem with doing this is that these comparisons miss the fundamental components of benchmarking:

  1. There is no standardised way to assess
  2. Your sample size is often limited to a very small sample (usually just a story from one friend)
  3. There is no set/average/normal level

This makes these comparisons futile exercises. Your benchmarking process is a complete waste of time.

The solution? Well… that ranges from fixing your internal dialogue to changing the way school assessment happens. There’s a lot to be done.

But the principle is simple: go at your own pace, and realise that trying to benchmark yourself is a flawed process. As long as you’re happy with your reality, then you’re doing it right.


Image is of Jared getting in the way of my sunset pic 😉

Song of the day: Porter Robinson - Language
Blog 158/365. Read more about my #365of25 journey here