Personal Growth Hacking: Track Your Christlike Attributes


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?
    1. Brenda, I’m glad you like this idea. I also think it would be amazing to have an app for this. Or at least something more permanent or long term…to measure progress over longer periods of time. I suppose you could really do the same thing with pen and paper but…who are we kidding? 🙂

  1. I find it difficult to hold myself accountable for my spiritual progress without acknowledging it by citing actions.

    What I did: I sent out my visiting teaching letters, ergo, I care about being faithful in doing that, I care about that those people to some extent.
    What I did: I read five chapters of the New Testament last night; therefore I wanted to be able to keep up with the Gospel Doctrine lessons. I wanted to feel the spirit, I wanted to prepare for celebrating Easter and being able to know more about the atonement.
    It is harder to quantify “being” than it is “doing”. I will have to put some more thought into that side of things.

    1. Margaret, your comment reminds me of something Elder Richard G. Scott said in October 2010 General Conference: “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”

      I think that what we ARE is at least partially a summation of what we DO. So they’re connected. Definitely food for thought. Thanks for your comment!

  2. i had thought a bit about this some time ago. For home teaching I thought it would be enlightening to measure my own behaviors (number and kind of interactions beyond HT visits) and specific responses (how many times do my families initiate any kind of contact, whether purely social or specific to a HT need). The output is the more significant measurement because it would be a proxy for the strength of our relationship.

    1. Fascinating! Did you ever try it out? If so, how did it go? I’m sort of a nerd for personal metrics and measuring performance (if you couldn’t already tell from reading this post), and I think exercises like the one you describe can be useful or at least very interesting.

  3. This scares me a little. It’s HUGE, and I’d need either a sheet of paper 8.5 inches by 10 feet or so to print it. And then I’d try to do every one of those things every day. But if I leave it on the screen, I’ll only do that which is on the first screen and completely forget about scanning further to the right. (Hm. “Scan The Right” doesn’t have quite the same sound, nor does STR.)

    But I know what I’m going to be doing in the morning. I’m going to begin, and try my best. (Don’t tell Yoda that I’m only “trying.”)

    *jeep! and God Bless!
    —-Grandpa Chet

  4. Oooo I’m seeing your site for the first time and totally loving it. Thanks for posting this!

    Once upon a time I also made a Google form survey for this and added a few questions after each section asking, “What has contributed to my being at this level of [insert Christlike attribute] lately? What can I continue, discontinue, begin or focus on to progress in my level of [insert Christlike attribute]?” Recording quantitative and qualitative data helps me to “reflect and project” well.

    Here’s what the survey that I use looks like:

    And my thoughts on the exact same topic:

    Thanks again for sharing! So glad to have found your site!

    1. We’re glad you found us, too! How cool that you had basically the same idea and used the same tool to pull it off! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  5. Here are some great resources to up your game:

  6. Hey, I was just set the Attribute Activity by my missionaries to complete. I loved your spreadsheet – I was thinking of making my own, as I’m a bit of a nerd for data, so thought I’d check first. I have one issue with the template, in that the chart takes a cumulative total for each attribute, as opposed to a mean. So the attribute I need to work on most by far is charity and love, but because it has the most questions it seems to come out better. So I added a mean column and then made a chart of that, showing which attribute is weakest overall. Thanks a million for the original work though!!

  7. Thanks for this! I did something similar to what Hamish did because I wanted to see where I was weak/strong. I also edited the form to change mission language to apply to my normal life “ie: I focus on my calling as [a disciple of Jesus Christ] and “I obey all the [laws of the land] and [all applicable rules].)

    Sure appreciate the template to work off of!!!!

  8. Hello! I can’t make the link to the spreadsheet work. Can you fix the link or add the link in a comment below? I really want to use this! Thank you 🙂

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