Monday, September 30, 2013

Perspective-Keeping with a Daily Tally

Steve Jobs opens the floor:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Mulling that over, I developed a perspective-keeping technique I’ve grown attached to which I call the “Daily Tally,” which I try to do every single day as my own way to look in the mirror.

One thing this quote made me realize is that oftentimes a lot of consistencies in my life will go unnoticed or unappreciated. I might be making significant progress on a goal, for instance, and not notice the individual increments of success since I don’t pay attention. Or, I might be treating people too sourly than I should allow of a personality, and I lose track since I get too focused on the trees in neglect of the forest.

To keep my eyes open, in my notebook where I track my goals I have written some questions I’m supposed to examine every day and internally and explicitly answer to keep track of what’s going on in my life. Where I’m moving forward. Where I’m moving backwards. Where I need to tweak.

So far I’ve managed to keep it up for quite some months, and really appreciate its effect of making me more self-aware than I’d usually be, though I need to work harder at doing it at the very end of the night, so that the totality of a day is summarized.

My list of questions is mainly personal for things I emphasize in my own life, such as dietary health and concentration, but I’ll surely change it. One practice I’ve found most helpful is to make one section of the questions be permanent, and another section consist of items I need to “check in” with, such as a goal I’ve completed that still needs monitoring. The value of the second area is to keep track of completed goals to ensure their effect is truly lasting for the long-term, such as a week I might spend buffering my concentration, as it takes a long time for habits to solidify and it’s easy to accidentally undo a good habit while it’s still gelling.

For those who might like this practice, here’s my own list of question to aid you in brainstorming your own. I write mine on the last page of the journal so that I can find it rapidly and edit/erase it.

* What kind of start did you make to the morning?
* How well did you eat? Good for budget? Were better choices available?
* How well was your focus? Did you concentrate?
* Did you make an effort?
* Did you avoid distracting time expenditures?
* How did you treat others regarding fairness and sociability?
* How did you handle your money?

* How are your concentration skills? Could they be buffered?
* Anything especial of note? (Such as unexpected progress and other good things.)
(...) (Omitting one for privacy.)
* How is your patience and perseverance? Are you developing grit?

Keep looking in the mirror.

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