How data helped me to 10k and beyond

MissMissM (she/her)
3 min readApr 27, 2021
Photo by Denys Nevozhai free from Unsplash using Unsplash license

Not just the data alone but focusing on monitoring/observations as well as the initial trigger that led me to realize the 300 steps I got without thinking was really part of a larger interconnected problem.

Perhaps intuitively it is a bit naive to benchmark 10k steps as the goal.

The Logic of Failure

But for myself this helped immensely about ten or so years back when I was one of the early Fitbit adopters — the wristband that happily vibrated on my wrist when I reached my magical 10k goal that was programmed on those devices as the default.

I also remember reading a book called The Logic of failure which explored the importance around observing vs making changes.

Emotions as the driving force

Not only that but I was having joyful guilt free(er) time on Saturday when I oggled my past week’s medium term performance to have healthier sustainable habits that last long term.

The key is that real change doesn’t happen without observations and often the observations (or change monitoring) can have the biggest impact with other things like gamifying the goals to make things interesting enough.

That certainly was the case for me when the first day the device bluntly reported mere 300 steps after the first full day out with it when initially I was just keen to monitor myself what then turned me into making the change.

Priorities take some time to adjust

I left these steps often as the last thing I did whilst this habit changing was slowly creeping on me but surely enough I was often at 10PM going out to get my steps and the associated buzz my Fitbit gave me.

Baking it into lifestyle

After I started to recognize the problem I had introduced and I didn’t want to have this “catching up on steps” activity as a separate but more baked into my lifestyle to make it sustainable.

I started leaving my car much further away but it was still not enough at 5000 steps or so and still having to go to late night walk to get my buzz.

What took me finally over the line to solve the “separate activity” problem I introduced was sell my car.

I drove that car off and on work mindlessly on autopilot without much thinking about it.

Organically grown lifestyle that is..

It eventually occurred to me that if I combine more of this “organic lifestyle” walking — now from bus station and back eventually I will get my 10k steps without having to even think about it.

Leaving artificial additives out..

Without artificially having to remind myself that I need to do those steps that I was perhaps neglecting and perhaps felt shame about too that in worst case could eventually have demotivated me from not doing those steps if I enabled this needless negativity to flourish further.

As a driver in the organizational culture..

Similar way Google resolved their phishing problem — instead of artificially reminding constantly their people about the dangers of phishing — they solved the problem by baking in the U2F hardware key tokens as one of the most early at-scale adopters (well they were co-inventors really) to do just that without relying on people to remember/being constantly reminded on things.

Not only that but instead of me reminding my neighbour to be careful with our common door I put a doorstopper onto it one night and nobody had to think it ever since.

It was just the beginning..

I didn’t stop here as later I picked up interval running and other habits where I would not have been unless I came to realisation I had a problem I subconsciously needed to address thru observing my own data.

But a good one as such..

I don’t think I would have adopted the other nice things later unless I had the initial small push to change the small(ish) habits first when I became more aware what needs to be addressed thru observing my own data.