I Built a Good Decision/Bad Decision Calculator

This morning I ran across something that I thought was pretty interesting. It falls into the “what gets measured gets done” realm.

I thought it was an interesting way of going about things, and it reminded me of something from reading The Happiness Project where the author tracked all of her goals every day. The author’s goals were pretty widespread, so it’s not the most feasible thing in the world, though she wrote a book, and I write a mediocre-at-best blog so maybe she’s on to something.

This picture though seemed a lot more feasible. I thought it was interesting. I sent it to a friend of mine. Their reply? “I’d like it better in Excel.”

So I built my version in Excel (and then copied it into Google Docs so my adoring fans could see it too).

It tracks multiple goals, and it even calculates the totals for you to avoid basic arithmetic.

While I liked the idea of the person I’m ripping off, I wasn’t 100% on board with their goals. I had to make my own.

The ground rules were basically to make sure that I was covering all of my bases (nutrition, activity, and rest), while providing points for achieving goals and deductions for certain missed goals. A key in this was to make sure I couldn’t get rewarded for doing anything too extreme, except walking. I don’t think I’ll ever manage to walk dangerously far unless there’s a zombie apocalypse and they’re the slow living dead. And even then, I’ll take too much walking over being lunch.

Otherwise, I shot for balance. For the calories, even if I hit my net goal, I didn’t want to ever be under 1,500 calories in a day. I don’t think that’s healthy at my size. I also didn’t want a net loss of 1,000 calories because I don’t need to lose fat that quickly.

10,000 steps and 30 minutes of exercise are my basic activity goals. That’s a pretty good daily goal. Even if I can only hit one, I think I’m ok. The only exception is being under 5,000 steps a day. The only time this should happen is on the weekend, and even then I think it’s worth a deduction to ensure I’m at least eating right to make up the difference.

Sleep and meditation are my rest goals. I’m not big on meditation, but I figure if I ever actually do it, I deserve some credit. As for sleep, 6-7 is my range of I’m not happy, but I’m also not really harming myself. Point values sit on opposite side to make sure I’m either getting a comfortable amount of sleep or receiving a deduction for not sleeping enough (in addition to the real-world punishment of being useless all day).

The more heavily weighted group is nutrition. There is the obvious net gain/loss goal, but I wanted to get more nuanced. I added the fruits/veggies category to make sure I was at least getting balance (I can surprisingly eat low calories without getting many healthy foods). I also through in a bonus for every day with Coke and a deduction for every day that I didn’t keep score (odds are if I wasn’t keeping score, I was probably making bad decisions).

While I made the spreadsheet, I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. I just thought it was a good way to prioritize my goals. If it stays active, I’ll probably just use the same sheet and then keep my totals as my tracking record (though there’s a possibility I’ll get really nitpicky and make multiple sheets so I can see where I’m doing well and where I’m not doing so bueno over the long term).

If nothing else, it was an interesting mental exercise. Feel free to take the idea and run with it yourself.




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