"Improving the Average" Method
You have heard the phrase “you are the average of the people closest to you”?
I propose that your awareness of your average execution over the last 4 days has is a more direct reflection over who you will be in 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years…
It is too easy to have one or two bad days dominate our thoughts and actions. To derail our progress. It is all too common to put off change because we haven’t been doing well lately (so we’ll start next week). Or shirk our responsibilities because we have been ‘good’ lately.
But your progress long term isn’t dictated by a single bad day (or 3).
It is the culmination of millions of little decisions averaged over a lifetime.
All of those little decisions (little in the grand scheme of years and decades) add up. You can imagine them working like that butterfly whose wings contributed to the hurricane. Those seemingly insignificant choices may start a cascade of events, but they always work in concert with all of the other things stacking up.
Think about each big area of your life. Your fitness. Your food. Your sleep. Your work. Your family/social time. Etc.
Each area that you know to be important (especially the ones that you want to improve).
On each one of these you did one of three things:
- You got better
- You stayed the same
- You got worse
Some days there may be huge improvements. Some days there will be large setbacks. Sometimes these changes will be tiny. And some days, you will hold the status quo.
Now think back to the last 3 or 4 days.
How many days did you + something? How many days did you -?
It doesn’t have to be a detailed and quantified analysis.
Did you make progress, stay the same, or get worse?
Did you eat a little bit better today than you did the day before (or last week)? You get a plus.
Did you not workout or not do anything physical and good for your body? You get a minus.
The goal is to stack as many pluses over time as possible and to avoid getting the minuses. The more pluses you can get close together (while at least getting an ‘=’ if you can’t get a +), the faster you are going to progress.
But we don’t need to track every single day for years on end.
We just need to focus on the last 4 days or so (and maybe plan for tomorrow).
We just need to make sure that there are more pluses than minuses.
If you can’t get a plus today, try to get an equal. If you have had a couple of days of minuses, alter your plans so you can get some pluses today and tomorrow.
You can do this mentally for a couple of categories. The things you are trying to focus on the most. You can remember the last few days. Did you get more pluses or more minuses? What are you going to do today to shift the balance toward the positive? What are you going to do tomorrow?
A note on =: The law of entropy is that everything is always slowly deteriorating toward chaos. To score a true equal on a task, you must do something that at least negates the normal degradation that happens when you completely avoid something.
If you are ready to step up your game and work on more than 1 or 2 things, you can track this on your phone, journal, or paper calendar!
Here is an example:
If this was your chart, you can see that you have been doing pretty well on your fitness as of the last 4-5 days. Your nutrition has lost a bit of ground. Your sleep is stuck, but at least it isn’t getting worse. Work has been a bit negative. And you have been doing an okay job with your friends and family (a small gain).
If fitness is your main goal, you are doing a pretty good job! But if you are trying to lose weight or change your muscle to fat ratio, you are going to need to get more pluses in that row. Make sure you are putting effort in that area.
Fill it out every day. Constantly look back over the last few days and make sure progress is being made (and/or doing damage control when things aren’t going well).
Here are some examples of what would be a plus, equal, or minus:
Ultimately, what you end up counting as a plus/equal/minus will be completely dependent on where you are at, and what your goals are.
If you are coming out of a slump, just going for a walk, or drinking fewer calories, might be a plus. If you have been consistent for years and more ‘extreme’ measures are required to make a change, you might need to do a full 1.5-hour training session to get a plus or avoid sugar completely for the whole day.
Some days you get a shovel, some days you get a spoon.
The key to this system is to remember that you should do your best to make some progress, no matter how small.
Don’t wait for the perfect shovel to move that dirt. Use the spoon when you’ve got nothing else. But most importantly, don’t let dirt slide back into the hole (or put some back in yourself on accident).
And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you used the shovel or the spoon. It only matters that you are moving more dirt out of the hole than is coming in.
GREAT advice from Neuroscience:
- Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter.
- Just searching helps.Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
- Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
- Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.
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