Lifestyle Management
through System Analysis


Introduction to Personal Improvement

This page describes how to make lasting improvements in your lifestyle. For  example, it can help you exercise more, lose weight, or make numerous other personal improvements.   You make the resolution and we help you get there in the short run and stay  there for the long run.  Interested? 

The techniques we use is based on continuous quality improvement, a well know  method of improving organizations.  We apply the concepts of continuous  quality improvement to personal improvement and lifestyle change. In the end, you not only get to make important improvements in your lifestyle, you also  get to learn more about  process improvement.


  1. Start a personal improvement, make a resolution.
  2. Understand the procedures for analyzing habits and lifestyles
  3. Review the data for what works

Assigned Reading

  1. Read chapter 1 "Keeping up with diet and exercise:  a workbook"  in Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program book  Pages 7 through 30.   More
  2. Read about experience of others.  Read "Does process improvement work?" in  Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program book pages 31 through 38. There are no guarantees.  Your success will depend on how willing you are to modify  your environment.   It will take several weeks and you would need to keep at it for a while.  But it is important to ask what has been the  experience of others with this approach.   You can see a summary of their experiences to date. More

Step by Step Guide to Self Improvement 

To make lasting changes in your life, follow the steps provided below.  Read and review the entire list but start with steps 1 and 2.    

Enroll .   Before you proceed, you need to be aware of the information we collect about you (e.g. did you succeed in getting to your resolution) and the risks and benefits you face by participating in this activity.    Please print the form and physically sign and send it by facsimile to 703 993 1953.  Consent
Make a resolution.    Decide what is it that you want to accomplish and why.  Some examples include improving diet, weight loss, increasing exercise, improved fitness, more leisure time, and so on.  If you are thinking of a diet change, please consult a clinician. When you are ready, let us help you start your storyboard.  You can also think through your resolution, use Figure 1 in Chapter 1 in the book: Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program. More
Put together a team.  Even though the goal of lifestyle management focuses on you and how you can make personal   improvements, the solution is likely to involve "process owners,"    people who live with you and who help you carry out daily living   activities.  You can start by reading about how to organize and  maintain an improvement team in Chapter 4 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.   When you are ready, test if the person you have in mind is a process owner by completing Table 1 in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program. 
Describe life processes.   Take a scientific approach to accomplishing your resolution.  Start  by understanding your habits and events that trigger them.  Make sure you are aware of how you live and how various parts of your life are interconnected.  You can learn how to use lists and flow charts to describe your life style by reading Chapter 5, and completing Table 3 and Figure 2 in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.  See examples of system changes introduced by others. 
List possible changes & change your environment. Make sure that you come up with more than one solution.  Wait and do not rush into a decision.  Select several solutions at once and bring about multiple changes in your environment.  Keep in mind that we are   looking for system solutions and not a renewed or increased effort.  We want you to succeed by changing your environment and not your motivation.   Read about system change in chapter 3 and check if your solutions are system changes by completing Table 4 in the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.   Make sure that you include the scores for system change in your personal improvement storyboard. 
Monitor progress.   You need data to see if changes you have introduced have led to   improvement.  Learn about data collection and analysis in Chapters 6 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program.  If you relapse to old habits, keep asking yourself what led to it and what needs to change to reduce future relapses.  Make sure you include your control chart in the personal improvement storyboard. 
 Engage in cycles of improvement. Plan for, do, check and act   again.  Go through cycles of changing your environment and checking to see if it has led to better lifestyle.  For more details see workbook in Chapter 1 of the book Thinking Person Weight Loss & Exercise Program. 
Tell your story. As you go on, publicly report your progress to your improvement team.  Make storyboard about your progress.  At the end of the semester, hand in your narrated personal improvement storyboard to the instructor.  Storyboard   


  1. To get started, listen to "Restructuring Your Life"  Listen SWF

What you know?

Advanced learners like you, often need different ways of understanding a topic. Reading is just one way of understanding. Another way is through writing about what you have read.  The enclosed assessment is designed to get you to think more about the concepts taught in this session. 

  1. What is system change and how is it different from putting more effort into accomplishing your resolution?
  2. What is the difference between a buddy and a process owner?
  3. How would you know if the change you are making in your lifestyle has led to improvement?
  4. Who is responsible for your failure to accomplish your resolution? 
  5. Why should you make a storyboard if you are the only person who looks at it; wouldn't you know your own story?
  6. Why should you try again if you are succeeding?
  7. How does one link life processes to the habit you would like to change?

You do not need to send your responses to the instructor.  If you feel you do not know the answer to these questions review chapter one or ask a question on the web from the instructor. 


Assignment Due this Week

  1. Make resolution to change a habit you have not been able to change in the past few years.  More

  2. Every week ask a question or comment on the lecture.  Comment  Ask

Examples of Lifestyle Changes

Elementary students learn more,
are more active and lose weight
if they stand in classes

A computer analyst
solves back problems
by working while standing

Before you set out to make your own journey, check some examples of how  others have gone through the same process:

See examples for increasing exercise and activity 

See examples in weight loss and diet 

See examples in other life style changes

  • Clean house faster   The frequency of accumulation of clutter was reduced.  Includes analysis of routines, purchase of new equipment, re-arrangement of shredder, changes in schedule and more. 

  • Save money and reduce ATM use  The frequency of ATM use was reduced.  Includes organization of improvement team, list of possible solutions, scoring of options (systemic change or personal effort), and a control chart. 

  • Get to work on time.  Number of occasions of delay in arriving to work was reduced.  The personal improvement includes a flow chart of current events that cause the delay, a list of motivation based options and environment change options, scoring of extent of systemic change, data collected over the course of the semester, and a control chart analysis of the data.

  • Stress reduction The workbook was used to develop a model of how stress occurs.  Regression analysis was used to link various factors leading to stress

  • Reduce television viewing by scheduling work. 

  • Better study habits  Includes use of control charts, flow charts & lists.  See an example with rescheduling house work and vacation .   It includes a control chart showing impact of the interventions on study habits.  See another example in Norwegian.

  • Reducing obsessive compulsive behavior:  Includes moving average chart of data, detail process chart and system changes

  • Increasing flossing.  Includes time-in-between charts and changing the environment by putting reminders around

  • See an example in reducing the frequency of use of snooze button (example includes use of control charts as well as list of routines and scores for systemic change)

  • See an example of increasing water intake.  The example includes use of list of routines, scoring of systemic changes, data collection and analysis of data through control charts:

  • See an example of improving a high school student's grades by changing his home environment:

This page is part of the course on Lifestyle Management   This page was last edited on 06/06/17 by Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D ©Copyright protected.