Becoming a better person

I wrote a post a couple years ago about whether you can create goals for the things in life that matter most. Over the past year, I’ve renewed my commitment to goals and habits, and measuring my progress. The benefits have been tremendous, but I’m still left with this question of whether life is something you can measure and track in a spreadsheet.

It’s true that much of what makes life worth living is qualitative in nature. However, I grew up in an environment where I missed out on some good habits and the general instillment of self-discipline. Like a lot of people I’ve talked to, I was smart enough to be bored to death with school, slacked off, and completely underperformed as a result. Throughout my late teenage years, I gradually began to realize that the pieces of my life weren’t going to magically fall into place and I’d need to put in the work. But unfortunately, I sucked at hard work and self-discipline. The Navy helped with some of that, college helped some more, but mostly it’s just been a long, steady slog up the hill of determination, learning every day a little more about myself and how best to ensure that I keep moving forward. My current belief is that by tracking and managing the quantitative things in my life, I can better manage the qualitative aspects as well.

For example, one of the leading causes of failure in marriage is finances. Learning to track and manage my spending and net worth has been very helpful to me and my wife’s finances, and has the added benefit of improving the qualitative aspects of our relationship as well. The same type of parallel could be drawn with my personal productivity, with health and exercise, diet, time management, etc, etc. I’m on a life-long quest to become a better person, which I can only assume will help me in my interactions with the humans. But maybe there’s a valuable aspect of the messiness of being human that I’m not seeing?