A data driven approach to living your best life
Five time-tested methods that help me stay on track with personal goals, build new habits and enjoy myself in the process.
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in strategic approaches to personal development. It started with to-do lists and New Year’s resolutions (that I never kept), but I quickly realised that I needed a more elaborate framework that allowed me to track important data without spending too much time on its maintenance and analysis.
Over the years, I researched, tested, modified, adopted and discarded dozens of techniques. Some required too much commitment, others didn’t provide enough data for meaningful insights and some just didn’t fit into my routine.
In addition to finding the optimum framework, I had to decide what data to gather, how often and in what format, all of which took a lot of trial and error. It’s still a work in progress, and maintaining and improving the tools that help you optimise your life is a part of the optimisation process.
Here are five techniques that served me well over the years. I hope you find them useful too!
1. Rating scales
At the end of each month, I rate my perceived satisfaction with the following eight areas of life on a scale from 1 to 10:
- Work and career
- Family and relationship
- Friends and community
- Health and fitness
- Finances and material goods
- Creativity and growth
- Emotional wellbeing
This is a quick and dirty exercise that allows me to gather quantitative data on a bunch of broad topics and see patterns and correlations. Of course, this doesn’t tell me what went right or wrong, but looking at a heat map (I view this data in different formats, but a heat map is the default) at the end of the year, I get a bird’s-eye view of what went well and what needs improving. It takes less than five minutes at the end of each month and serves as a prompt to review and reflect on the personal goals, achievements and areas of…