Are you measuring your success by your achievements at work or the growth of your business? If so, you’re very much like the highly driven, Type-A, clients who I work with as a coach. When sales are up or the business is growing, life seems perfect and the sun shines down on you. But then, when you go through a rough patch, you grow anxious and wonder if it’ll all fall apart.
The problem is, we let the success of our career or business dictate the success of our life. But this method ignores the bigger picture. Although it may seem like our work takes up the majority of our lives, there are a number of other factors that feed into “life success” – such as family, exercise, friendships, diet, exploration, travel, and self-care.
While everyone will have different components that make up a successful life for them, one thing is certain, work cannot be the only determinant. However, we all fall into this trap at one point or another. I struggle daily to step outside the “success = work achievement” mentality and to remember the other elements that make up a good life for me. But I recently came across a more holistic system I now use to measure daily success.
The system is what I call the “Good Day / Bad Day Spreadsheet.” It’s an idea I got from author and business consultant, Jim Collins. Over the course of many years, Jim has built a spreadsheet to analyze what types of activities make up his best days and what make up his worst. By doing this he is able to look for patterns across his life (not just within his work) that allow him to create more “good days” going forward.
How it works is through a rating system that ranges from +2 (Amazing Day) to -2 (Terrible Day). He then tracks the activities from each day. Take a look at the Key in the spreadsheet below to see the rest of the Daily Rating Scores. One score that I added recently is the (+3), which for me represented an “Unbelievable Day” I had in the countryside in upstate New York. You can make iterations to the scale as you create your own.
The other critical columns to include are the Hours Worked, Date, Daily Rating and Notes. The “Hours Worked” column allows you to see correlations between work and daily happiness. The “Notes” section will provide your most in-depth dive to your activities so that you can analyze them later.
In order to implement this system, at the end of each day, set a reminder on your phone to complete your Daily Rating. It is critical to do this each day so that you still have your memory of that day and how it felt living in it. Then at the end of each month, you’ll want to review your scores to look for any outliers. What contributed to any (-2) scores? What made your (+2) day so incredible?
By analyzing this data you can start to create more (+2) days based on your past results. You will also start to notice patterns of the activities you need to do each day in order to get a positive score. For example, maybe you need to work out in the morning in order to make the rest of the day amazing. Or maybe all of your (+2) days involve a long phone call with a best friend. Slowly you’ll start to piece together what makes your day a “success” and you can build your future days with that framework.
One of the biggest takeaways from my time doing this has been that my best days have always included some extended period of time in nature. Whether it’s a long run in the park or an escape upstate, these days always rate positively for me. Another thing I’ve noticed is that days in which I get to coach people are always rated positively. These are two pieces of information I’ll continue to use to create a more “successful life.”
If you want to start shaping your own life using Jim Collins’ technique, you can download the template I’ve created here.
Whether you adopt the system or not, one thing to work on is how to take a more holistic view of what creates success and happiness in your life. How can you zoom out from the career-focused version of success to see the bigger picture? By zooming out, you’ll start to see the little successes of your life that can make a big difference.