A Self-Tracking Challenge (draft)

This challenge requires some working knowledge of spreadsheets, and self-tracking. It’s also a work-in-progress and is very much open to feedback.

In a spreadsheet of some kind (Google Spreadsheet, Excel, Numbers, etc) rate every day subjectively on a scale between 1 and 3.

1 = exceptionally bad day

3 = exceptionally good day

2 = all other days

Then, come up with a “fitness function” based on objective data (nothing subjective like mood) that is mathematically correlated with the subjective rating over time. Say, over a month or two of data.

In other words, find out what, if any, things that are externally measurable have an effect on your subjective experience of life. Using math.

Use =CORREL(subjective column, objective column) in most spreadsheets to get a number between -1 and 1 that states whether or not the two sets of numbers are correlated. -1 means they are inversely correlated, and +1 means they are directly correlated. 0 means there is no correlation. For the purposes of this experiment, both -1 and +1 are equally valid winning results of this challenge.

Nobody’s going to reach 1 or -1 though… I think anything above 0.5 or below -0.5 is a pretty stellar number. I’ve been trying to do this for the last month and a half and my number is still -0.13. Almost no correlation.

What’s the point? #

The point is to see how well we know ourselves. Are the things we do daily, on an objective basis, at all correlated to our happiness/fulfillment/etc that we experience on a subjective basis?

Most people would say yes.

It’s entirely possible that they are not.

And if they are correlated what are the inputs? How precise are they? Does it matter how many steps I take a day, or does it just matter whether or not I walked to work? Does it matter how many drinks I had, or simply whether or not I’m hung over? Etc.

And also, how similar is Person A’s correlation inputs to Person B’s? How much variance is there between what makes everyone happy/fulfilled/etc?

I’ve only just begun trying to answer these questions for myself… and so far am not having much success.

Subjective vs Objective

Is this problem interesting to anyone else other than me? Participate in this branch if you want to be part of the discussion. And for more background on my current thoughts on self-tracking, here’s a post on what I’m tracking now and why.


Now read this

$1 for you

I want to change some of my behaviors. What else is new, right? (I’ll tell you what is new!) I have a new strategy for getting through my habit-gimmick-resistant brain. Between now and the end of October, I’ll give $1 to the first person... Continue →