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On Developing a Factor Model for Bouncing Back!
This post is a revision of one I published back in January of 2022. I updated the model by tightening organization, editing factors, making it participatory, plus some other stuff.
Optimizing Resilience and efficiently bouncing back from setbacks is critical to personal health planning and long-term wellbeing, so this factor model is something I plan to continue honing. Reader input has been helpful so please reach out with any ideas/criticisms by replying to this email newsletter or leaving a comment below.
Into each life, a little rain must fall.
Life is difficult and we all get kicked in the face occasionally.
Whether we catch a bad break or commit an unforced error, it doesn’t matter.
We get injured, we lose loved ones, we suffer illnesses, we overindulge etc.
And so it’s not so much what happens to us, but how we respond that matters.
How we bounce back.
Oxford defines Resilience like this:
The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
I love this simple, clear definition.
And given the universality of setbacks, our capacity to recover is crucial, especially if this capacity is something we can build intentionally over time like a muscle or a relationship.
Preemptive resilience can make the difference between these inevitable setbacks staying localized and temporary or becoming generalized and chronic.
Piotroski & His Classic Factor Model of Value Investing
Stanford Accounting professor Joseph Piotroski built a 9 factor model to determine whether a value stock made a good investment or not. Here’s a link to his famous paper describing the model.
I love the name Piotroski. It sounds exotic and it always stuck with me, but the model itself is pretty straightforward and makes intuitive sense.
Piotroski identified nine fundamental factors such as cash flow, margin, and debt.
When analyzing a stock, he assigned one point for each factor that was improving year over year and zero points for each factor that was not improving.
The higher the score the better.
So a 9 makes a good investment and 0 makes a bad one.
Building a Simple Factor Model of Resilience
We can think of resilience in terms of a factor model just like the Piotroski Score.
There are multiple factors which promote resilience and the more of them we practice, the more resilient we might become.
This Factor Model of Resilience provides a simple measure of the sum of twelve factors that contribute to maintaining and improving resilience over time. We score one point for each factor we practice.
The effects of cultivating resilience are cumulative and interdependent. They are cumulative in that the more factors we develop the more resilient we become. They are interdependent in that the more of these factors we develop the more we are able to develop others.
So the more factors we practice, the better we might get at bouncing back from all types of setbacks.
Resilience factors might also compound over time.
So it’s not only the more of these factors we practice but the longer we practice them.
The Factor Model of Resilience consists of twelve factors. The more points you stack, the more you are optimizing personal resilience.
Presently, I offer this less as a formal model and more as a way of raising self-awareness and identifying factors to optimize resilience.
Here’s the stack of resilience factors:
1. Nutrition - If you are eating nutrient-rich, low-processed foods regularly and limiting those with added sugar, give yourself one point.
2. Fasting - If you are skipping breakfast and not eating before bed time regularly, give yourself one point.
3. Sleep - If you are averaging seven or more hours of sleep per night, give yourself one point.
4. Walking - If you take walks four or more times per week, give yourself one point.
5. Sun - If you get outside most days for 20 minutes minimum and soak up some sun, give yourself one point.
6. Sweating - If you do some type of continuous exercise twice/week or more where you work up a good sweat, give yourself one point. This might be low intensity jogging or biking etc.
7. Resistance - If you do some type of resistance training (weightlifting, calisthenics) twice or more/week, give yourself one point.
8. Relationships - If you maintain supportive enduring relationships with a low level of conflict, give yourself one point.
9. HIIT - If you participate in high intensity interval training or any type of exercise in which your heart rate reaches 85% of max, give yourself one point.
10. Work - If you characterize your work as rewarding, give yourself one point. (If you don’t love your work, but have a hobby that you love and do regularly, give yourself one point.)
11. Joy - If you are enjoying life in general, give yourself one point.
12. Alcohol - If you average three or fewer drinks/week, give yourself one point.
Some Additional Notes
1. This list is imperfect, unempirical, and inexhaustive. Potential factors I left off the list for the sake of keeping it simple include Sense of Humor, Waist to Height Ratio, Discomfort Tolerance, Free Time, Cognitive Flexibility, & Wealth. There are others.
2. There is no grading system at least yet, like 1-4 points equals Poor Resilience or whatever. At this point, this is more an exercise intended to increase self-awareness and to assist in identifying areas that might help us further fortify our resilience.
3. Everybody is different, and there are factors unaccounted for in this stack that might affect a particular individual’s resilience in an outsized manner.
For example, there might be a person who only scores one on a few factors, but those contribute to resilience in an outsized manner.
Maybe you have a world class drummer in his 80s whose vocation promotes cognitive-motor stimulation at a very high level. That could be worth a lot more than one point and result in a high level of resilience regardless of whether the drummer jogs or does push ups.
Below is a video of Jazz Master Billy Hart drumming his butt off at 82. Wow! Enough said.
4. There might be age-related limitations. For example, HIIT might promote injury rather than resilience for some people.
5. There may be confounding or interaction variables like age, time, or performance level that could positively or negatively affect factor values in specific cases.
6. The resilience factors are less well-defined than Piotroski’s factors, which are all clearly a one or a zero. While it is easy to mathematically determine whether cash flow improved year over year, it might be much less clear cut determining whether someone is “maintaining supportive enduring relationships with a low level of conflict” etc.