Hey everyone! I have something to share with you all that I am extremely excited about (and maybe a little scared about as well). I’m finally going to share a personal experiment I’ve been conducting on myself for the past two years and have only shared with a handful of people up until now.

I have been working on a system that has been the catalyst for much of my self-improvement accomplishments over these past two years. Here are some of the things I have been able to do as a result of my experimentation:

Bench Press 240 lb.
Gain 20 lb. of muscle
Run half marathons
Deadlift 420 lb. raw

Read over 50 books last year
Start my knowledge logging system
Tracking my nutritional intake
This blog

Started the GTD system
Daily schedule
Schedule tracking
Sustaining on 4 hours of sleep on weekdays

Drinking fruit and vegetable smoothies
Cutting out Dr. Pepper during weekdays
Daily meditation
Flossing daily

How it started

Two years ago, I became extremely frustrated; I was frustrated with my inability see explicit progress in my life and was fearing that I was just in a hamster wheel and not making any significant growth to show that I am a better person today than who I was the previous year. I don’t remember the day or the exact instance, but things reached a boiling point when I finished my day at work and I realized that I hadn’t accomplished anything of value the entire day. I finally had enough and said this has to stop, I cannot afford to let another day go by in my life without me growing or improving in some way. I will not have another wasted day.

I then set out to build a system where I could track my progress in areas that aren’t commonly measured and ultimately to see how I could make every single day valuable. Im going to stop here for a brief moment and let that thought sink in: Every single day is valuable. I’ll probably write a whole post about this later, but I don’t want pass over this point. We over estimate what we can do in 3 years, but underestimate what we could do in 3 months. Just think about that, how much could you reshape your life if you made one tiny baby step forward every single day?

It’s About Habits

My search for measured growth led me to habit-building. Habits dictate a large bulk of our daily functions, and if I could continue to add positive habits into my daily routine, then I could have constant feedback that I could measure.

But I still needed a format to build these habits into that would not only list out the habits I want to integrate into my life, but also be actively involved in solidifying them into my routine. This led me to one of my greatest productivity nemesis in high school: Video games.

Video games have evolved beyond the basic functions of Pong on the Atari and are now fully interactive worlds with in deep storylines and cultures that allow you to be the hero of an epic tale or gain international recognition for being the most feared sniper in Battlefield. It has become so incredibly detailed and user friendly that we are raising generations that are addicted to these virtual worlds.

I soon realized what is at the source of video games addictiveness: habits.

Games like Call of Duty or Battlefield are now just as much habit-developers as they are game or storyline. The key is the invention of Experience Points. Game developers realized that in order for people to continue the play the game, there always needed to be something left to accomplish, and so they laced their games with this scoring system called experience points, and you used these points to move up in level ranking. They would put simple rewards to be unlocked at each level to make each level significant, and with an online community, just the rank itself had implied value to the gamer to compare to their peers.

What is crazy about this whole thing is that all this is is simple habit-development. Game developers are providing constant positive feedback to encourage the game to continue to play the game, and as a result are developing the habit to play that game for enjoyment.

What if I took that concept and turned it to build constructive habits? Instead of being addicted leveling up in Call of Duty, what if I was addicted to flossing my teeth or working out in the morning?

The System

I decided to build my habit-building system around the concept of the experience points system of video games, and so I would have a list of all these habits and skills that I wish I could make part of my daily life, and I spread them among 10 levels and created a point scoring system so I have to accumulate points to move up the levels and “unlock” these positive habits and skills to add to my life.




So how this works is I deal with two types of attributes: habits and skills. Acting out these attributes gives me points which allow me to unlock new ones at later levels and create a domino effect where eventually I have a whole arsenal of attributes that are now part of my daily life that I’m using to be more effective on a daily basis.

Habits are actions that I expect to be part of my daily routine, and they have to be explicitly stated in order to be measured. So I can’t have a habit to “be happy” unless I somehow created a happiness scale that I ranked myself throughout the day and if I maintained a certain score would it count as a successful day of being happy.

In order to move to the next habit is if I successfully use the current habit for 5 days in a row. I know what you’re thinking, “doesn’t it take 21 days?” Actually, no. The truth is that it varies on the habit and the person to make the action become automatic. Currently the safest singular number that researchers have came to to form a habit is 66, but that again is an average and not a standard number. So developed a method to work on habits that could adapt to this variability in that you only have to directly focus on a single habit for 5 consecutive days and then you move your attention to a new one. But you can still work on the previous habit and get points for doing that, and you get extra points if you do all your habits for the day. This way you got the emotional accomplishment that tells you “hey you won, you developed the habit!” by advancing to a new habit (even if you really haven’t solidified it yet) but removes the pressure having to fight to make it a habit, and now its just a way to get you some extra points in your system. The thing is that you’re still practicing that habit on a daily basis, you just aren’t thinking about in that way. It’s like you tricked yourself into thinking it’s an automatic routine even before it is.

That is key to making this whole thing work, it is designed to remove the emotional obstacles that have prohibited you from making these changes in the past and to be making positive changes in a simplified manner. If you want to see how powerful your attention is, read my post called “What are you focusing on?” https://grantxstorer.com/2014/04/what-are-you-focusing-on/

The other attribute to the system is skills. These are the attributes that are unlocked by the levels, but where they differ from habits is that they aren’t necessarily accomplished on a daily basis. Some of these are benchmark accomplishments like “finish reading a book” or weekly achievements like “workout 4 times in a week”.

The Class Project

Like I said earlier, I began this process two years ago, and over the past two years I have revised the system multiple times to make it more streamlined and user friendly, and I’m now on version 4.0. Since I haven’t yet learned coding, I’m just using an Apple version of Excel called “Numbers” which has helped me to gain a much better skill of Excel then any class ever taught me.

I worked on this privately for the past two years, but I finally was given an opportunity to test out the concept in a revised form this past spring semester for my Social Venture Planning class and my team adopted a form of this concept to test out. We converted into a social fitness program where everyone is competing against each other on ranking up it the fitness levels. It used the same habit building concept but it was all fitness-related topics.

Overall, it was fun project and was really encouraged with the growth potential this concept has to branch out into other sectors like an exclusive fitness model. The one thing that handicapped this concept was we tried to really embrace the video concept and loaded 3x the amount of achievements than my original system had to break down the steps to even smaller baby steps. Since it was all manual-entry, having to keep track of 50+ different fitness-related achievements bogged down the entry process.

The great success to the experiment was the results. Since one of my teammates, Taylor, was also my workout buddy, we were constantly competing against each other on our system while workout out together. This competition drove me to push myself within the system and the end results were amazing! Over about 10 weeks, I was able to put on about 13 pounds muscle and finally was able to bench press 225, which I’ve been trying to hit for at least the past three years! I also deadlifted 425 lb. raw for the first time as well.

Moving Forward

As I reflect on the class project, there was one critical element I had that I never had when using this system: accountability. While my hope was that the system alone would satisfy my need to be held accountable, but at least at the stage I’m at in its development, the system alone can’t hold me accountable.

I was able to set the program to be accessed online, and so my whole team could see each other’s progress, and even if they didn’t really look at mine, just the knowledge that someone knows my goals and could easily check on it was enough to push me to keep on my habits.

So that is what this blog is about, I need to be held accountable for my goals and habits. My perfectionist mind doesn’t like talking about a project when it isn’t 100% yet, but I’ve already been on this for 2 years and I have seen great results. I need to share this and get feedback on where I’m going.

Hold Me Accountable

One of my biggest obstacles is developing the habit to wake up on time. This has been a goal ever since the beginning, and I usually can build up momentum and wake up at my desired wake time of 3:15am for maybe a week, but then I lose that momentum and never can build it into a habit. The problem is that most of my daily habits are part of a comprehensive morning routine and so if I sleep in by 30-60 mins, it jeopardizes many other daily habits from being accomplished.

So I need you to hold me accountable to this. Since I really don’t know who will read this, I’m going to provide a method to be passively engaged in accountability.

Part of what I will do in the morning is if I wake up on time and don’t keep hitting the snooze button, I will post something on Twitter and Facebook within 15 minutes of my wake-time goal. They’ll usually just be a quote-of-the-day and I’ll have a designated hashtag: “#TweetsB4Dawn” If I post this, that means I woke up on time.

Second thing is that you can actually watch my progress online. Just go to TheXavierProject.com and you’ll be able to see my whole program. (There is one page that won’t be on there which is my entry sheet that takes all the raw data you’ll find on the database page, and converts it into a simple checklist for each day, which is the third picture above.)

The Dream Goal

I know this is not yet a finished product, but I’m pretty optimistic that this could be the beginning of something special that could be the complementary feature to summarize all the self-help and motivation speakers that we’ve all heard from at one time. I think we all generally know what we need to do in order to move forward, but we need a format that paves the road for us to follow and act out what it is we conceptually know.

If I can just help people find a method to make that first step forward, I can add to this program to help in a broad reach of different aspects of life; I can help people build habits to set them up financially, or to learn healthy habits to eat better or to exercise more often. This system could be a silent life coach that builds the momentum for exponential growth in people’s lives.

This could be the answer to my life goal to help people to maximize their potential. We all have been given an amazing gift of life, and I want to be able to help people to reach their full potential.

So there you go! If you read all of that, I’m sorry it was lengthy, but thank you for reading! Feel free to ask me about it and while it is not yet designed for other users, if this does interest you in it’s present form, just let me know and maybe I can set you up with this system as well.