Learning the hard way

I recently experienced a personal accountability failure that resulted in me gaining weight. In the indelible words of President Monson:

When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.

Three months after re-learning this lesson, I’m seeing the kind of trend I want in my weight. More importantly, pondering this experience led me to a shocking realization.

I have no equivalent systems to track the most important journey of my life—the journey to becoming more like the Savior.

weight graph

Failing to measure my performance made a big difference in my weight between Jul. and Dec. last year

Things both temporal and spiritual

Thanks to my attempts (and despite my failures) to use systems and goals, I can tell you with full confidence that I weigh more now than I did a year ago. I can tell you exactly how much more, and I can tell you exactly why. What I can’t tell you is whether I am more diligent, virtuous, or charitable than I was a year ago. Or even a week ago.

This realization shocked me. The more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me.

Recognizing that spirituality is not quantifiable in the same way as body weight, bank balances, and other temporal goals, I set out to create a tool that would give me at least an indication of my spiritual direction.

The (digital) Christlike attribute activity

I created a template on Google Drive for tracking Christlike attributes over time. It is based entirely on the Christlike Attribute Activity found in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, and it allows you to compare the results of completing the activity up to 10 times. Here are the instructions for using the template.

  1. Click here to access the template
  2. Click File > Make a copy to save a unique version of the template to your own Google Drive account (must be signed into Google Drive for this to work)
  3. When you are ready to complete the activity and record your responses, click on the sheet called Form Responses 
    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.36.33 PM
  4. In the menu bar click Form > Go to live form
  5. Fill out the form and click Submit on the final page

You’ll notice that the form is divided into sections–one for each attribute. You may complete any number of sections each time you do the activity. You can measure all attributes every time, or focus on just one. Your copy of the template is completely editable, so you can customize it to suit your own personal study needs. By default, each time you submit the form, a new bar will appear on the graph for each attribute you measure.

I hope the insights you gain from trying this tool will compliment your current efforts to become more like the Savior. This represents my first real attempt to measure my own progress in a specific, meaningful way, and it is already impacting the way I spend my personal study, the way I direct my prayers, and the way I understand my role in this life.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.46.55 PM

Not actual data 🙂

Items to consider and discuss

Obviously this is a very rudimentary tool. A definite hack. Here are some opportunities for reader input. Let’s discuss on social media or in the comments below.

  • What is the value of quantifying personal Christlike attributes?
  • Are there dangers associated with quantifying spirituality? If so, what are they and how can they be avoided?
  • Does anyone want to take this hack and turn it into something more robust? Say a mobile app?
  • What methods do YOU use to measure spiritual progress?