Test and Re-Test

Every day, we are striving to be better than we were yesterday.  We should be anyway, in my opinion, because otherwise what’s the point?  Why do anything if there’s no purpose behind it, right?

While striving for improvement, it’s important to know where we are, and compare that to where we’ve been and where we’re going.  In the gym, this is easy.  This week we did back squats, for instance.   You recorded your heaviest set of four into Wodify.  If you’ve completed back squats before, you have a past report to reference.  Hopefully you’ve seen an increase in capacity.  Next time you back squat, you’ll have another point on the performance plot.  Your goal will be to make that point higher than this week’s point.

Similarly, we can apply this test/retest method to our mobility.  Do some work on your shoulders with the band, then test your capacity by putting your hands up in the air after you work on each arm.  Usually people are amazed at the difference they see after only a few minutes of this kind of work.

But what about the other aspects of our lives, outside of the gym?  How do we know if we’re better than we were yesterday, as a friend, a parent, an employee?  How do we know if we’re improving in life?  We have to break it down and look at things from a scientific point of view – we need to test, do some work, and re-test.

Find something in your life you want to improve on.  Maybe it’s process-oriented, like getting to work earlier.  Maybe you want to master a new skill.  Figure out what you want to do to make you better, at whatever.  Then (and this is the hard part) -form a hypothesis around what action(s) you think will allow you to reach the goal, and find a way to measure progress.

Say, for instance, I want to master the skill of knitting (dorky, I know – but seriously it would be nice).  I can set a goal that I want to be able to knit myself a pair of mittens.  If I sat down today with yarn and needles, there’s no way mittens would come out of whatever I ended up doing.  So I’ll start by learning the basic knitting knots this week.  At the end of the week, I should be able to knit a scarf.  Then maybe next week I learn how to alternate yarn colors (because you have to have at least one stripe in your mittens!)  Then I can learn how to knit in a circle, perhaps make a hat…. you get the idea.  Every incremental step I take, I’m improving towards the end goal.  I can measure my improvement by the fact that I can do something today that I couldn’t do last time I tried (knit a scarf, for instance… then knit a hat…etc.)  The journey of improvement keeps me motivated and excited, and the mastery of the skill gives me a sense of accomplishment.   At the end of the process, I end up with a new skill, a killer pair of mittens, and a new goal or area of improvement that I want to tackle next.

Try this.  Find something you want to accomplish, big or small.  Figure out what the most logical path towards that goal is, and take it one step at a time.  Track your progress to see improvements along the way, and reward yourself for taking on life and striving for self-betterment!  As always, if you need some help or feedback, talk to us!

Karen Southwick