Tracking without judging

What has worked better is tracking behavior without particularly striving to change it. Rather than drawing a “good enough” line and striving to meet it, you commit only to tracking the relevant numbers -– dollars spent, calories consumed, miles walked, pages read. What you discover is that simply knowing this data changes what you want to do, so that you’re not constantly fighting with yourself. You don’t need to depend on winning endless should/shouldn’t battles in order to change.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2020/08/the-myth-of-grit-and-determination/

I believe this is true with one important caveat: The value you are tracking must be close to the actions. Allow me to explain…

If you track your weight, this will have little effect: When I pick up a cupcake, the scale is nowhere near—if I could think, “don’t eat the cupcake because weight loss,” then I wouldn’t be tracking my weight trying to affect my weight loss. But, “if I read for a few minutes now I can then mark off—right now—that I did some reading today. So, tracking, “ate more veggies,” works… or, “did something active,”…

Anyway, that’s been my experience. ymmv :)

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What do you do while on the bench?

She didn’t recognize there was a bench in her life — and because she didn’t recognize the bench, she didn’t focus on the game playing out around her. In baseball there’s a location shift, from a player being on the field to a player being on the bench in the dugout.

~ Callie Oettinger from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2016/08/how-to-pitch-get-in-the-game/

I don’t personally think of my life as if I’m sitting on “the bench” waiting to be tapped to go out and play in the game—but it’s a good enough metaphor, so I’m running with it today.

The question is simply: What do you do while you are sitting on the bench?

There are many other ways this has been phrased…

What are you doing, each day, to build an asset that will be useful to you later?

Or if you are in a creative arena…

What’s on your web site that shows me the work you’ve done?
What’s in your portfolio?
Who can’t stop talking about you?

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P.S.: This question is part of my personal list of daily reminders.

Self-improvement

If you’re the sort of person for whom success in life means stepping outside the comfort zone that your parents and high school counselor charted out for you, if you’re willing to explore spaces of consciousness and relationships that other people warn you about, if you compare yourself only to who you were yesterday and not to who someone else is today…

~ Jacobian from, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/8xLtE3BwgegJ7WBbf/is-rationalist-self-improvement-real

Wait. Wat?! Some people think self-improvement isn’t real?

I mean, if you are not using your rational faculties to improve yourself… Honestly, that’s redundant; How could one improve oneself without using rationality? I suppose one could just make random changes, (which seems to be what a lot of people do,) but as soon as you observe and reflect, then you are engaging your rationality. To be human is to be all the things the animals are, and to have the ability to be—to various degrees at various times—rational.

There’s a reason I really like the three words: Observation. Reflection. Efficacy.

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Incessant

I’m on a streak about my problems and weaknesses, and today I have another one: Incessant, incremental improvement. I need to learn that sometimes it’s best to leave well-enough alone. My drive for continuous improvement causes me problems in two ways.

First, not every conceived improvement turns out to be so in the end. It’s more like a random walk experiment; One step forward, one step forward, one step forward, two steps back! The setbacks stick in my craw and I get fixated on the thing I was tinkering with. I had good enough, better, ok wow, awesome… and the setback to ‘better’ just feels unbearable. My favorite though is the setback to now it’s totally broken.

Second, I expend huge amounts of mental effort and time looking for incremental improvements. I can take this quest to batshit-crazy levels. Sometimes I manage to see or experience something and not start thinking of ways to change it. Sometimes. It’s rare. There’s no peace nor serenity when your mind is always ticking looking for improvements.

As usual, more questions and observations than answers today.

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