Tracking yourself for personal change

She looked my way. We made eye contact for a split second. I flashed a smile. She smiled back and looked down. "Damn, she's cute!" I thought. She ordered her drink and moved on. As she walked past the other coffee-goers, she stopped to wait for her drink. We made eye contact again. My brain got a hit of some hormones while I felt giddy all over. 

I walked up to the counter to put in my order. The barista and I made a few jokes. I laughed at his joke and felt the girl's soft gaze. It helped that she saw me being social with other people, I thought.

I grabbed my drink and thanked my buddy. I turned towards her. My heart raced faster. We made eye contact as I approached. I smiled. She smiled back. She stood there, completely open. I got closer and closer. Then...

Nothing.

I walked right past her.

I made all kinds of excuses in my head. I need to focus on my work. She's probably just a nice person. I don't want to take up her time. I'm busy myself, I can't get involved with anyone right now.

Deep down though, I knew. I was scared of getting rejected. I let the opportunity slip up.

As I unpacked my laptop I looked back up at her. She had stopped smiling and seemed disappointed. The barista called her name, she grabbed her drink, and then walked out without looking back.

Another opportunity to connect with someone, gone.


After that day I became fed up with how many times that situation played out. Again and again.

I met up with a good friend the next evening. We chatted about all kinds of things, from startups to personal development. Then girls came up. Both of us reflected on the fact that we let work come first. As we talked, I realized I allowed work to become an excuse to not approach women. It was a subconscious lie I told myself to avoid the discomfort of rejection.

That night I committed to making a change. I didn't know what change looked like, but I knew I needed to do something...


Over the weekend my cousin and I hammered away during our usual grind session. I wondered how I could turn my goal, approaching more women, into a system. How I could make it easy to do so I'd keep at it over the long haul. Setting a simple goal to "talk to 5 women a day" wasn't enough.

Then I remembered 2010. The year my world opened up. The year I began experiencing insights like never before. The year I started focusing on what I really wanted in life.

That year I started the new year tracking how many women I approached. I had no goal, but kept track of the numbers. In the coming weeks and months I made more friendships than ever before, and deepened the friendships I already had. I found ways to approach more women than ever before. Every time I failed I experienced the reality that it didn't matter. I cared less about failing. The tracking turned into journaling and created a cascade of change in my life. I needed to start tracking again.

I opened up Google forms and started creating a survey for myself. It had to be easy to fill out or I'd ignore it. I put questions for how much I read, what workout I did (if any), how many girls I approached, how many of my routines I did, and how many of my daily goals I finished. With each question it got easier to create and write better questions.

I finished up with 10 questions. I edited some of the questions to make them easier to fill out, then cut 2 of them. Now to set it up so I'd fill it out every day. 

First thing first. I needed to set a time and place to fill it out. It tracked the time I filled it so I used that to track my sleep time. I committed to filling it out last thing before bed on my phone. Easy enough. I opened the note app on my home screen and saved the link for the form. No way I could miss it at night.

Then I wondered about the the days I'd get lazy and not want to fill it out. What then? 

At the bottom of the form I added one final question called "Skip". I'd just need to mark a 0 in there to show myself I skipped that day. By filling out the skip question when I was lazy I'd see those days I skipped glaring me in the face. Plus it'd keep me at least opening the survey and filling something out.

So what happened?

It's been 74 days and I've filled the form out every single day.

That skip question turned out to be the key. A few days in the beginning I wanted to skip. I opened the form, went to the bottom, then realized it's easy enough to just fill it out. ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY SKIP!!! ...and planning for the worst case scenario...

RESULTS: LIFE CHANGING DATA


The first week I started I woke up at 11:45am on average (embarrassing). This last week I woke up at 9:15am on average, including the weekend.

I drink more water now (after adding a question about it). I've reconnected with many friends. One week I went on 4 different dates, something I didn't think possible for myself. I worked out 25 out of the past 38 days. I wrote over 7000 words. I averaged reading 12 pages a day for the past month, an increase from 6 pages a day the month before. 

In a word, I saw progress.

More than the averages themselves, my data gave me insight into how I performed each day. I could identify exactly where I started slipping. This last week I've been sleeping later. I also slacked on my routines, which led to worse performance in all categories. I could also see how going to an event made it super easy to approach women. Much easier than doing the same routine day in and day out.

I went back to that Starbucks again recently. Another girl and I locked eyes and exchanged smiles. This time I knew if I didn't approach her, I'd have to throw a big fat 0 on my form. No way I'd let that happen. I walked up to her, my heart racing faster and faster as I approached. 

"Hey, where you from?" She smiled. 

Needless to say, this simple form changed my life.