Let's be honest: If we don't literally stop and look back in order to relive the important moments of our lives, we won't really live them. It's a problem best solved by quantifying both your everyday physical activities as well as your experiences. The quantified self, for what it's worth, is already gaining ground. The quantified self is a digital cataloging tool that puts those activities in context. This tool is intended to help improve your everyday experiences and self-efficacy in general, which in turn will improve your potential for meeting life goals.
There are two factors that lead us to view each new day as an experience worthy of document. We think about life events, and what the meaningfulity of them is, using the subjective measurement of our own internal experience. We think about experiences of the life we have lived so far, and the one we are about to embark on.
I recently spoke with Nathan Resnik, the Chief Strategy Officer at John F. Kennedy high school in New York City, as part of our The Next Ideas content series about empowering students to better understand and control their own lives through digital experiences. A special focus of this series is digital experiences, from introspection to professional development to lifelong learning.
Here, Nathan shares with me some ideas about using the quantified self to motivate students to better meet their life goals. "The goals for the year were to challenge ourselves to engage in world learning, personal growth and community engagement activities," says Nathan. "We started by asking our students to think about what world traveling they would like to see if they could."
Whenever we set a goal for ourselves, either big or small, ask ourselves what the experience was like. Ask what we learned, what our perspective changed and how the goal we set actually shapes who we are as a person. Asking these types of questions not only helps us realize how we're going about accomplishing our goals, but also helps us remember to set goals in the first place.
Keep your intentions simple
Just because we've set a goal doesn't mean we have to accomplish it all at once. Evaluate the goal you've set, and determine what you're really going for in the moment. Although it may seem exciting to set goals for the next week, month or year, it's usually harder to consistently keep them. When it comes to life goals, maintaining a consistent journey of life improvement is easier than trying to repeatedly hit the goals we've already set.
Share your results
At the end of the day, we're all curious about our lives and what other people experience. Ask your peers, and see what types of questions they might ask you, or what stories they may be telling themselves. The reason we keep checking out other people's experiences is that they spark a deeper conversation with our own lives. This serves to connect us to our own personal stories, allowing us to better understand the relationships that shape us and also help us to understand the history of our own lives.
Most people love collecting interesting and fascinating data about themselves. Instead of spending the hundreds of hours to prepare for a trivia night, use your data to keep track of your life. Set up a tracking app, like MyFitnessPal, and use it to keep track of your daily fitness and food intake. You'll be surprised at what you discover when you get connected to the data. Let your habits inform your health goals and engagement in the world, starting with your diet.