One of the best show and tell talks I saw at QS15 was Damian Catani’s presentation about dream tracking. He has been tracking his dreams since he was 17! Now 35, he has a wealth of information about how many dreams he tracked over the years and their content. As I sat in Damien’s talk, I remembered that I used to track information on my own dreams back in high school. I considered what I might have learned from keeping track of my own data all those years.
I’ve focused mainly on workout and diet data over the years, but attending the conference got me thinking about tracking other areas of my life. There are certainly an endless number of possibilities but then again only so many hours of the day. I’ve observed that in QS, people choose to track and quantify the things that are of most interest to them personally. I’ll probably only ever take the time to track topics that have already been of interest to me in the past, unless it’s very, very easy to do so.
During the talk, I was thinking that dream data would be a great opportunity to use text mining, if the dream descriptions were in electronic format. Damien didn’t say in detail if he has already done that, but I can certainly understand because of the personal nature of dreams, he doesn’t share details in depth. However, he did note that he saw patterns with certain people and settings appearing when he was experiencing specific events or emotions in his life.
You can see Damien’s dream presentation slides online here. I liked on slide 12 how he pointed out that the average number of dreams he remembered increased after he made it a specific goal to track (on average) one dream per night. The average jumped up again once he made it a goal to track at least one dream per night.
In a later tools talk, Damian showed his Goalmap web site, which allows you to track 25 different kinds of goals, both simple and complex. He mentioned that he is working on an app to complement the web site that would be ready around September. You can see the slides for his Goalmap presentation here. I tried out the web interface and liked the idea. I have used other daily goal setting software before but found that became too time consuming to keep up with. Setting a small number of goals at a time and working on making them a habit seems to work well for me. But perusing the site definitely made me consider including more long-term goals in my plan.
Like any goal setting software, this web site is a tool that provides a sense of accountability as you progress towards achieving your goals, but is only useful if you log in and use it over time. On his blog, Damien has a helpful post about setting goals that are specific and achievable. For example, don’t set the goal to “lose weight” but rather set the goal to “lose X kg by Z date.” This is advice that I have seen before, but I think far too many people have never heard it. Making specific goals allows you to see whether you are moving towards those metrics and if not, evaluate them and adjust your approach so that you will achieve them.