Self-tracking 101

Part 1

What is self-tracking? I am going to use the term self-tracking as a broad term for: asking questions about yourself, quantifying or attaching value to variables that might answer that question, gathering data about those variables, and interpreting the data to answer your question. Don’t freak out. It’s much easier than the science and math words make it look. In more familiar terms; set a goal, stick to it, and track your progress regularly. Self-tracking can be one of the best, most effective ways to learn about any aspect of yourself. Why? Because unlike doctors, therapists, physicians or any other professionals; you are always around to observe you. Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that self-tracking replace your health care but rather that it can greatly compliment it. Self-tracking is most prominent in the health and fitness niche so let’s start with what’s most familiar. It’s very likely that you have already done a form of self-tracking. You may have attempted a diet plan that called for calorie count, weight, and eating times to be recorded; or you may have trained for a marathon and tracked your workout length, speed, time, etc. These are great ways to apply self-tracking however chances are you were just following some vague or basic advice. I am going to show you how to use self-tracking in a systematic effective way so you can achieve results and analyze those results to make changes accordingly. Learning this method will make it much more likely to achieve those seemingly impossible results you have likely chased after and longed for, perhaps for a very long time.

Where is a good starting point for someone who has never done anything remotely like this at all? The true beginning of anything new seems to always be a question asked by someone, somewhere, somehow. It is the same with self-tracking. If you never learn to self-track but you learn how to think critically and ask the right questions you will have achieved a great thing. This seemingly simple and unrelated skill (asking questions and thinking critically) is in fact an integral part of self-tracking and in my opinion experiencing a full and amazing life, every day. These skills should not be learned solely for self-tracking for they can catalyze everything in your life to a much higher level of functioning. Instead of accepting life as simply existing, you will want to experience and discover the entire spectrum of life’s endless possibilities. The most important benefit I have seen and experienced from learning to truly think about things and ask questions is the startling revelation that I have the ability to take action and make decisions in my own life. It has helped me to see that the social environment and conformities I live in are not absolutes and I can forge my own path if I wish. If you take up self-tracking chances are you are going to be and do some unconventional things. You need to be prepared for that and separate yourself from basic assumptions, and become confident in making your own decisions.

I am not going to play the guru and advertise rare cures or remedies that somehow only I mysteriously acquired. I subscribe to (author and blogger) Chris Gillebou’s no guru philosophy. No one person has all the answers and especially not all the right ones. (No miracle cures from me today-unless of course I’ve tested them and shown you my results). When it comes to asking questions and thinking critically there is no perfect method either. One of the biggest reasons is the amazing fact that every person, situation, and speck of matter in the universe is not perfectly identical or symmetrical. This is why there cannot possibly be that one size that fits all. However this Holy Grail is a common goal in humanity at large, and small. Everywhere you look you can find evidence of humanities relentless search for it, especially in western culture.

The idea and context of the one size fits all Holy Grail is my own abstract construct. The term perfectionism may be more familiar to you. You have probably used or heard someone else say something like “I’m just too much of a perfectionist I guess” or the opposite “I’m not a perfectionist at all!” in response to someone or something usually in an offhand way. You may be surprised to know that the word perfectionism is more than just the meaningless term it has become. Also, it is important to note that absolutes and extremes are often used to explain a concept clearly or with better detail or focus.

A perfectionist is a person who strives to be the best and do the best, but will not allow themselves to make mistakes. These people always seem to notice or search for weaknesses or flaws in themselves, others, situations, etc. They also tend to become rigid and within the box thinkers. Often they seem obsessed with tiny insignificant issues and constantly point out problems they observe-Before you continue reading be careful about thinking of perfectionists as “other people”. We have all been perfectionists in some way and at some point and that is ok, it is part of learning, growing, and being human. So please reflect on yourself as well as those around you when reading this-As you can imagine-or perhaps you don’t need to-this kind of living can become quite stressful for not only the perfectionist but also everyone around them. If you’re the perfectionist (or I should say-if you tend to be perfectionistic) it can be challenging to be happy because you and everything around you is imperfect. If you have spent time with or around someone with extreme perfectionistic tendencies you may have become frustrated, confused, or even insulted by that person.

But my parents told me to always do my best??? How can I not be perfectionistic and still reach for the stars???

Those are excellent questions! Which brings me to the most important point; perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. Here’s the difference: Striving for excellence is a healthy motivation to learn and grow and achieve high goals through hard work; Perfectionism is motivated primarily by fear of rejection, disapproval, and ridicule; self-doubt and self-image also play a role. The way I like to distinguish them is: The producer has drive, while the perfectionist is driven.

There is a power in naming and identifying things(“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”Yoda). So look at the list below and try to think about your thought patterns, behaviors, and feelings. I encourage you to print this and(or) write the list down and circle the ones on the perfectionistic column that resonate with you. If you can’t do this simply internalize them. After you have gone through the perfectionism column, read carefully and internalize the wholeness column. Really think about what your life would be like if these were a part of you. Try to visualize or feel how you would be different. Then try to see how life would be better. Let that image or feeling motivate you to start healthy living.




  • Unreasonable goals
  • Obtainable, realistic goals
  •  Self-worth based on achievements
  • Self-worth is inherent
  •  Can’t feel satisfied
  • Can self-reward in a healthy way
  •  Based on comparisons with others
  • Recognizes individual uniqueness
  •  Feels uninvolved and invalidated unless performing well; cannot share mistakes without excessive shame.
  • Accepts self as valuable while acknowledging human weakness
  •  Excessive or chronic fear of failure
  • Can accept failure as part of the learning process; Able to keep trying
  •  External standards for success
  • Goals derived from inner awareness
  • Goals exceed present performance by a great degree
  • Goals reflect growth to next stage of progressive development
  • Cannot find pleasure in progress toward goal; focus only on the outcome
  • Enjoys the “journey”
  •  Emphasis on keeping life under control
  • Emphasis on keeping life in balance

The next foundation of self-tracking (the one I was talking about in the beginning of this post) is critical thinking and asking good questions which I will discuss in the next post.  The reason I spoke about perfectionism first is because I believe perfectionism can have a huge impact on perception and influence our thoughts and feelings but most importantly hamper our ability to see things objectively. Critical thinking and asking good questions are all about objectivity. If you liked this post please comment or share it. If you are interested in receiving more information subscribe. If you just have a question feel free to email me.