A number of general principles or rules of thumb guide UP.

  1. UP is designed around the individual’s unique situation, which can radically vary. Individual differences are substantial across different ages, geographies, cultures, etc. We avoid generic prescriptions and unsafe assumptions.
  2. We often design an UP around the analogy of a fast-growing Y Combinator startup or an aspiring Olympic gold medalist. This helps shape the intensity and metrics-focus of UP. The client is the entrepreneur or athlete and UP serves as the adviser or coach. Or, in deeper engagements, UP is the co-founder or training partner.
  3. We often use the analogy of a brain as a computer with a CPU (executive functioning), storage space (long-term memory), RAM (working memory), electricity (calorie-rich blood), and buggy or well-written software (beliefs). This helps us dispassionately look at the client and focus on optimizations more objectively.
  4. Every client we work with is an experimental intervention designed for maximum positive outcomes. We generally take baseline and follow-up measurements and publish our findings.
  5. UP is always improving. It will never be done or perfect. We keep a pulse on the latest peer-reviewed research, DIY experiments, and macrotrends and regularly incorporate new findings into our work.
  6. In practice UP often focuses on creating object-level immediate impact with a secondary aim to catalyze metagrowth flow through effects. In order to do meta-level work effectively, many people first need object-level problems to tackle. They also need significantly more control over their resource allocation, especially their attention, time, energy, money, and other resources. UP aims to give them both.
  7. UP is primarily based on research in positive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics. We also draw from cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and organizational psychology, and developmental psychology, among others. We approach change from a complex systems perspective, which recognizes that human beings are made up of many interacting factors.
  8. We believe in open science. We are working to make every step of our research is as transparent as possible. We are deeply open to feedback about potential errors and insight into how our research can improve. As we publish data, we invite you to “check our math” and confirm for yourself that what we do is worthwhile.