Using Information To Reach Your Goals and Build Stronger Habits


Last fall I was forced to sit through a seminar at work about Leading with Data. I was about as excited as you were when you read the above title. As it turns out, it’s really helpful. I’ve applied this to my personal life and again finding it useful. What am I talking about?

Unless you’re a data analyst or took a business degree, you probably are going through life a little like me: you have an idea of what’s going on but you’re not sure. As I’ve learned, real data is helpful because it’s raw facts. You can’t argue with facts. This spring I wrote about how I didn’t do a good job in December of using my light therapy because I didn’t feel like it. The facts said: if you don’t use this you will feel worse. I trusted my feelings instead of the facts. Guess which one was right? The facts. I ended up having a crappy Christmas again because I just felt really blah. That could have been prevented if I had trusted the facts (“No, I need to do my light therapy whether I feel like it or not.”).

Why real data helps

Data helps in achieving goals because we have real information about how we’re doing. It helps us to evaluate and adapt based on how we’re actually doing. Am I eating veggies every day? More or less. I have that info tracked in LiftApp. As I begin to track it, I become more aware of it as we talked about in my post on Keystone Habits. Now I can say, “I’ve flossed once a week for the past four weeks” because I’m tracking that behaviour on LiftApp. If I scour my memory for those occasions I can remember one or two. If I rely on my memory, I wont have the full picture of what is really happening. 

Take the info, adapt

After you have a bunch of data about the habits or goals that you’re trying to track, take some time to consider what it says. Are you having a hard time getting out of bed on Mondays and so you never manage to go for a run or write or do whatever it is your goal is to do that morning? You maybe haven’t noticed this pattern before, but you see it in the data. I never wake up on time on Mondays. OK, so what are you going to do to make sure you do get up? Maybe you need to go out and buy a coffee maker that will automatically turn on. Monday morning you’ll smell that coffee when you wake up and all you need to do is stumble out of bed and get it.

How to track?

There are several ways you can track your habits and goals. In your personal agenda, on your calendar, in a small notebook like a small Moleskine or FieldNotes that you carry with you. Maybe just a note on your smartphone, or perhaps in Evernote, or LiftApp. Think about what it is you want to know more about and think of a way that will be simple enough that it wont be a bother to input the information every day.


Ok guys, I know this is a really nerdy post. I want to know what your immediate reaction is: ‘I’ll never do this’ or ‘I don’t see why it will help me’ or ‘I’m skeptical, but I’ll give it a whirl.’ Go ahead and leave a comment here

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