Very simple algorithm for keeping track of doing something 50% of the time

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to eat meat less than 50% of days. However, I’ve been having trouble tracking it, and therefore have not been doing a good job of sticking with it. It’s hard to remember to update a calendar. You have to remember the days you did or did not eat meat that week, and there’s no easy way to see if you are doing better than 50%.

Yet, there is a shortcut we can use that my coworker pointed out to me that is very simple and elegant, although only because we have the simplification of 50%. Think about it for a minute…

If you’re like me you probably just jumped to this paragraph. Really, think about how you could track it!




Well, if you’ve given up, the very simple way of tracking this is just to add one when you make a day, and subtract when you miss one. You then only have one number, and that number tells you how far in the hole you are, or how well you are doing. Additionally, you are using psychology to benefit you, as humans (or at least the western-educated college students they run experiments on) hate losing things, even if the ‘things’ are imaginary points.

Right now I’m at -2 after 4 days. Which is not good, but at least I know now and can fight it!


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  • Seth
    2014/02/17 - 8:47 AM | Permalink

    I did the same thing when I was trying to do a certain number of pushups per day. Eventually the deficit was like 750 and I gave up.

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