Friday, September 2, 2011

Does quantifying data about self lead to behavior change?

There is a notion that if people are given access to information, they will make a different (read: better) choice. This has lead to numerous services tracking various aspects of one's life.

I believe that behavior is largely resistant to change. We all already know the information that these services are providing us - to lose weight one needs to expend more calories than one consumes; to save money one needs to earn more than they spend. Yet, when I open the refrigerator I am more likely to reach out for the black forest cake rather than the plums!

This month is going to be an experiment in understanding some of these services that I have signed up for (but never really paid attention to) and trying to design a better feedback loop for my goals.

Here are the five goals I want to achieve (based on some of my previous new years resolutions):

1. Food (body): Eat breakfast everyday and drink more water
2. Exercise (body/soul): Some form of physical activity every day of the week
3. Finance (mind): Save money for buying a new bike
4. Work (mind): Evolving an idea to a prototype that I can show to people
5. Soul: Taking time out to meditate and introspect

Some of the services I have tried to use before (and am looking for better alternatives):

1. Food: LoseIt!
2. Exercise: Fitbit, Nike+
3. Money: Mint, BillShrink
4. Work: iLife
5. Soul: --

As I map my journey, writing about the past (why I stopped using some of these services), present (different ways to visualize my daily experiences), and future (what opportunities lie in this space of "quantified self"); I urge you all to tell me about your experience with trying to make a change!

I was going to end with the cliche quote - "Be the change you want to see in the world" but instead I'm going to use this one from Socrates - "The unexamined life is not worth living."