This is a syndicated post originally written for The Life OS, one of my self-development clients.
People are constantly searching for an edge. In the competitive world we live in, the difference between “good” and “great” is like night and day. Those who work hard on consistent improvement often outlast those who neglect personal development.
It’s not necessarily that the most talented people win. Rather, it’s a case of dedicated people making lasting improvements in their lives that result in a better and more fulfilling life-situation. Plus, you only ever “win” at life if you’re happy. So in reality, you’re only playing the game of life against yourself.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, that if you’re only playing against yourself, you should work on improving your life in areas that result in greater happiness and fulfillment? Only then do you “win.”
Trust me, it makes perfect sense.
Build, Measure, Learn Feedback Loop
If you’re committed to improving your life, the question then becomes: What’s the best way to do that?
Well, improvements are only made when a specific aspect of your life is planned, tracked and measured against itself. For example, if I want to lose weight, the only way I can start improving is to get a baseline weight and then work to reduce my weight each week until I hit a target number. I could want to lose weight, but until I start measuring my weight loss, I won’t.
The model of self-improvement actually closely mirrors Eric Reiss’s build, measure, learn feedback loop. Reiss, the author of the Lean Startup Method, encourages startup companies to take risks and make mistakes. He advocates for building a product or service, releasing it into the wild, measuring market data, learning from consumer responses, and then start at step one and re-build the product or service even better. The cycle, Eric Reiss’s “feedback loop,” goes on like this infinitely.
You may or may not be a disciple of the lean startup method, but many companies have used Reiss’s blueprint of consistent learning to their advantage. And that what it’s all about: learning. That, of course, and improvement. Improving through learning.
Sounds a lot like life, huh?
When we decide to improve our lives, we do so in the same way Reiss outlines. We design a portion of our life to our best ability, we implement that design in the real world, we either succeed or fail, we learn from that success or failure, and then we try it all over again.
Let’s outline the three parts of the feedback loop as if it were for self-improvement and not for business. As you read, try to relate it back to your personal life:
During this phase, a startup tries to build and release its “minimum viable product,” that is, the most simple product that’s ready for market. It’s not what you envision the final product to be, but it might have the most important feature of features.
Think of your life the same way. Each time you set out to improve, you’re building a strategy that you think will achieve your goal. However, you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. You’ve never done this before. That’s why you can’t overcomplicate things.
If you want to become a CEO, for example, the first step isn’t to jump into the business world as a chief executive. Rather, you’ll want to create a detailed plan that helps you learn the skills necessary to hold a C-level position. The first step might be a job in product development so you can better understand how digital products are made.
From there, who knows exactly what will happen? But if you start with step one and then iterate as new information becomes available, you’re sure to be successful.
That new source of information is the raw data that’s measured in the second phase of the feedback loop. When it comes to a business, a startup must look at its customer feedback and measure the success of its MVP. Can things be improved? What did the market like about the product? What didn’t they like? These questions are answered during the measure phase.
When you’re trying to improve your own life, however, the goal isn’t to see how the market responds to a product, but rather, how closely your plan came to achieving your goal. If the point is improvement one of your life’s areas, you’ll only know if you’re making progress if you measure it from day-to-day or week-to-week.
Losing weight is a great way to visualize the measurement phase. You want to lose weight and you come up with a weight loss plan in the build phase. You begin the workout routine and then each week you track the weights you lifted and the amount you weigh. Over time, if you’re doing it right, you’ll start to see increases to the amount of weight you can lift and decreases to the amount you weigh. If you’re not successful, the opposite is true.
But you only know how you’re doing if you measure consistently.
This phase is pretty self-explanatory. In the startup world, this is when the business learns from the data it collects and decides what to do next. Often times, this phase is followed by another build phase as the company iterates its product in light of the new information.
The same thing applies to your personal life. Taking the weight loss example a step further, let’s say that you’re losing weight each week. The learning from this data, you can safely assume that what you’re doing is working and that you should continue doing it.
However, if you find that you’re actually gaining weight each week, you’ll want to check each part of your weight loss plan to see what’s up. Maybe you didn’t account for the increased weight gain from your muscles, and if you truly want to lose pounds and not gain them, you might adjust your workout routine so you lift lighter weights. But you only know what’s working and what isn’t when you try to learn from the data you collected.
Launchpad Helps Improve Your Life
Lucky for you, Launchpad provides templates that can help you with the entire feedback loop. Using these templates can help you improve any area of your life.
The most useful template for this type of improvement is our weekly planning template. You can use it to define your goals, outcomes, purpose, as well as the actions needed to achieve each of the three. You can use the template for any area of your life.
Unsure what area to focus on? We’ve got you covered there, too! Our categories of improvement template help you identify the core eight areas of your life and even gives you a life score that shows you areas that need improvement. With it, you can find the specific aspects of your life that would benefit from a weekly plan.
How about the outcomes and goals for each area? You might know that you need to improve your health, but how exactly? What does a “healthy lifestyle” even look like? Well, with our outcome block template, you can create outcomes and goals for each area that you need to improve. Then, using the weekly planning template, you can create a plan that works towards achieving those goals.
There’s really no time to waste. Every day you don’t implement the build, measure, learn feedback loop takes you one day further from your maximum potential. Do yourself a favor and make yourself happy. Identify an area of improvement and use the feedback loop and our associated templates to get better.