Live Success Spiral Walkthrough for 30 days

When I started this blog, I posted a tutorial on how to set up and use success spirals to live your day-to-day ideals. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do a live walkthrough to share exactly how I use these spirals in practice: From the inception of the success spiral through to its review phase. Now that it’s January and New Year’s resolutions [1] are heavy on people’s minds, I think it’s a good time to act on that idea.

Over the winter break, I suspended a number of success spirals. One of the spirals I paused was writing blog content, which is why I didn’t have a new post for a month. I suspended these spirals primarily because it’s difficult for me to get any work done when I go visit my family [2]. But now that I’m back in Pittsburgh, I’m gearing up to re-start. With this series of posts, I’ll show you how I set up my spirals, the tools I use to keep track of my progress, and post regular updates on my progress. I hope it provides you with some more concrete guidance on how to use success spirals [3].

In this first post, I’ll talk about the success spirals I’ve set up for the live walkthrough. Every week or so, I’ll post an update on this blog detailing my progress. Apart from that, I’m going to be posting daily updates on my progress on the following Google spreadsheet: On that sheet, you’ll see exactly how much time I spent on each spiral, the minimum amount I needed to spend on any given day, the promotion criteria I’ve set up, and how quickly and often I promote.

Selected Spirals

For this live walkthrough, I’ve decided to share my progress with two success spirals for the next 30 days. The two spirals I selected are both related to this blog: writing content and managing the blog. I selected these two spirals for the walkthrough because the results of any progress I make should be visible. If you’re following me as I do this live walkthrough, it should become clear how the effort I put in to maintaining these spirals yields results on this blog. I hope this decision has the additional benefit of encourage the selection of effort-based rather than results-based goals.

Blog Writing Success Spiral

Intention: Write at least one or two quality blog posts, per week, on the topics of grad life, research or personal development.
Starting minimum: 5 minutes / day
Ideal minimum by evaluation: 15 minutes / day
Start date: January 18th, 2016
Evaluation date: February 16th, 2016

Rationale: Ultimately, I want to write useful, high-value content on a regular basis. That’s why this spiral is important to me. Normally, however, I would start with a lower minimum goal: maybe 1 minute per day. Why? Because the goal is to rig the game so that it’s impossible to lose. In practice, even if your minimum goal is 1 minute per day, you’ll do a lot more. It’s just very, very hard to fail if your minimum goal is 1 minute per day. But, I’ve already successfully constructed a success spiral for blog writing so I’m building on the expectancy I’ve already built up. When I suspended my spiral, I had built up to 15 minutes per day. I want to get there again, hence the ideal value. I set my evaluation date to February 18th because my plan is to do this live walkthrough for 30 days. I typically set up an evaluation day every month, anyway, however, so I can decide if I want to further grow the spiral, put it into “maintenance mode” (i.e., where I’m not actively growing it), or drop it altogether.

Blog Management Success Spiral

Intention: Increase traffic to the blog and do other things necessary to make the blog succeed (this is vague because I need to first figure out what I should be doing)
Starting minimum: 1 minute / day
Ideal minimum by evaluation: 10 minutes / day
Start date: January 18th, 2016
Evaluation date: February 16th, 2016

Rationale: I spent my first three months on this blog focusing just on writing. That was great. But, one of my intentions for starting this blog was to grow a steady audience. I think it’s time that I started dedicating some effort toward that end. There’s a good chance I’m not going to like doing this, however, because I’m not a big fan of self-promotion and I procrastinate often on un-structured tasks. Accordingly, I need to start very small so that I can’t weasel out of doing it. That’s why I set my starting minimum to 1 minute per day.

Call to action

I’m excited about doing this live and publicly. Even if no one is actually keeping track, I feel a sense of accountability: I’m going to have to make this work or risk looking silly. In addition, I’m hoping this live walkthrough will make success spirals seem more concrete and valuable. I hope you’ll see that I’m not just making it up: it really does work.

All that said, one of the things I’ve learned, over the years, about these personal development exercises is that helps to be enmeshed within a community. So, if you think you want to try this along with me, I’m happy to provide that support. You’ve seen the spreadsheet: Just copy it and make one of your own. It can be for anything you’ve always wanted to do but have constantly put off: writing, making, playing. Share it with me in the comments, if you’d like, and I’ll be happy to track your progress along with mine. Let’s do great things.


One final note: If you liked this post and would like to show your support, here are two things you can do:
– Follow me on Twitter @scyrusk; and,
– Consider signing up for my mailing list below. I won’t spam, you can unsubscribe at any time, and you’ll get some content that I don’t post on the blog.

If you do either or both of those things, you’d make me happy. Thanks!


[1] Personally, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m all for setting goals to better oneself, but I don’t like the concept of tying that change to discrete time units. Doing so makes failure and procrastination easy. For example, if you do not make your change within the first week of the New Year, then you’ve missed the train (i.e., you’ve failed). If you think, in October, that you want to learn how to play the guitar, you have a simple reason to procrastinate starting: “I’ll just wait till the New Year”. But, if the New Year is what it takes to inspire people to commit to change, then that’s fine.

[2] It’s not my family’s fault, mind you. It’s a combination of contextual, personal *and* family factors.

[3] If you want to learn more about success spirals, please read my earlier blog posts (this one, and this one) or consider buying Nick Winter’s book.

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