I’ve approached many self improvement challenges recently by starting with a practice of self curiosity before taking action or making a major decision on what to improve.
For example, when trying to make sure I was eating right and drinking enough water, I started by keeping a log of how many glasses of water I’m drinking daily. I didn’t make any intentional changes.
There are a few reasons why this approach works well:
- It is a great way to get a baseline understanding of what is happening now. It helps to make sure I know how much I need to improve something - whether a gradual or more drastic approach to change is necessary.
- It establishes a habit of measurement before any changes are actually made. This habit is just as important than the change itself.
- The act of measurement always creates some change in behaviour - often for the better.
A few areas where self-curiosity has been critical:
- Time tracking: I’ve become curious about how I’m spending my time, with the ultimate goal of making sure I’m spending an appropriate amount of time on the things that matter to me most.
- Anxiety journals: I’ve started to write about the situations that give me anxiety or make me uncomfortable. The journal is a simple note of what happened (objective) and how it made me feel (subjective). This has helped avoid me making bad decisions when I’m anxious, and helped understand my response to certain situations. Putting it into writing immediately relieves some degree of anxiety, as it feels like some action is being taken.
- Productivity Retrospectives: I started a daily/weekly/monthly reviews to measure how many goals and to-do’s I intended to complete vs. which ones I actually completed. This retrospective has revealed patterns of overcommitment that I always felt I had, but now have empirical evidence to prove it, and change accordingly.
- Tracking Food and Water intake: without actively making any changes to what and how I eat, the act of tracking has already improved my eating habits.
Even after only a few months of these habits, I can already see how these small changes can have major impact over time.