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Creating The Right Feedback Loops

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” - Elon Musk

On a daily and weekly basis, we all settle into our regular routine. This can involve, getting up at 6am, having breakfast, going to work or school, eating lunch, finishing the work day, exercising, getting dinner, Netflix and chilling, and going to bed. The next morning, the process starts again. This routine is defined as a negative feedback loop. A negative feedback loop is not a bad thing. It is a way of maintaining and regulating. It’s comfortable and it creates order and routine.

On the other hand, a positive feedback loop amplifies change. Meaning, change can be either good or bad. When done right, it can lead to positive change. In sports, it leads to peak performance and mastery. Thomas Gomez states that “Feedback loops provide people with information on their actions in real time, then gives them a chance to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors.” In short, positive feedback loops involve action, information, and reaction, which elicits a change in behavior.

Gomez states that a Positive Feedback Loop has four stages:

  1. Evidence Stage: Collecting data, measurable, captured, and stored.

  2. Relevance Stage: Relay the information in an emotionally resonant way.

  3. Consequence Stage: Feedback must illuminate a future pathway to success.

  4. Action Stage: Recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then, the action is measured, and the feedback loop starts again. Every action stimulates new behaviors that inch you closer to your long term goals.

Tips for creating an effective positive feedback loop:

  1. Define long term goal(s) and the short term goals, with end dates. *Refer to the posts on Periodized training for ideas.

  2. Collect qualitative data (observations and thoughts) by journaling, and quantitative data (quantitates, numbers, and statistics) each day to show your progress.

  3. The feedback/data needs to be relevant. Meaning, the data needs to relate to your weekly, short term, and longterm goals. Thus, making it relevant.

  4. Know your WHY and HOW makes it personal. Your WHY (why am i doing this?) and HOW (how does it make a difference?) let you see your pathway to success. It’s motivating to see the progress in your process.

  5. Once you achieve a short term or long term goal, close the loop. Closing the loop involves seeing how you’ve improved, recognizing the new habit(s) you’ve developed, and setting your sights on the next short term or long term goal.

  6. It’s a consistent cycle of feedback, process of change, and goal attainment. Therefore, when you reach a short-term goal, repeat steps 2-5 till you reach your next short term. And, when you accomplish a long term goal, repeat steps 1-5 to create your next long term goal and positive feedback loop.

Consistent and constant feedback are what fuel change and allow you to develop new habits. In the end, having a clearly defined goal, a method to evaluate progress toward goal attainment, and positive feedback loops are the ingredients that motivate athletes to believe they can achieve and succeed.

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