Optimal Self Instructions

Want to use data and gamification to improve your life?

Within each of us lies our best self. And we all want to act in accordance with the goals of this higher self at any given moment. Unfortunately, this is difficult. But not impossible. And it’s a whole lot easier with the right ingredients.

I like the image of flying a kite. Your optimal self is on the ground, steady and constant, and your day-to-day self is the kite, finicky and easily knocked out of alignment. The goal is for these two to be harmony — the kite soaring through a beautiful blue sky and your optimal self having a blast.

GIF by MaggieRAPT

To realize this goal, the most important things to focus on are the conditions in which you fly your kite. Believe me — I live by the beach and have seen several instances of (usually a little kid) running as hard as possible to lift the kite in the air to no avail on a day with little wind. This is like trying achieve your goals using your memory or will power.

Instead, you’ll much more effectively fly your kite if you develop a trusted system that lets you clear your head and make decisions more easily. This system is the wind and well-crafted kite (which you are continuously improving) that provide the conditions for success.


Performance tracking is one aspect of my system that I particularly enjoy. I recently started sharing my dashboard with people and to my delight, some friends are interested in trying it out for themselves. So, I figure, since I need to write out the instructions anyway, why not put ‘em out there? Perfect timing to start in September!

Let’s Get Started.

There are just a few things you’ll need to do:

  1. Figure out the categories you want to track. I put some more info and examples from the categories in the dashboard ReadMe. Note that you can pick a couple or even one category to start, and that the points themselves are very individualized.
  2. Set up your software (free). Download and get comfortable with the Numbers app if you have iPhone or Google Sheets for Android. I have templates for each of these and can help with setup/customization, such as freezing columns. Get the template.
  3. Pick a day when your week ends/begins. This will be the time you close out your week from a data management perspective. I do this on Friday mornings.

Voila! Welcome to the guinea pig program (hey, I’m in it as well). Other than that you can ask me questions anytime and I’ll check in every now and then to talk things out and ask you some questions.

What I’m Curious About

  • What sorts of things you find you gain/lose points for and what other customizations you make.
  • When you log points (is it usually triggered by the event or something else?)
  • How you find the experience.

For some closing thoughts, here is a wonderful podcast looking at another kind of tracking — tracking animals in the African bush. The lesson? When it comes to the art of tracking, we musn’t forget about the need for openness and patience as well (38:47 if you want to skip to that part). Enjoy!