As a general summary, I define “level 3” in any attribute X to mean you are running a consistently positive net X over time. (Koanic’s definition is more psychological, whereas this is economical.) If X is money, then level 3 means you are consistently making enough to pay your bills and sustain a responsible lifestyle (insurance, etc.) with some extra spending money left over each time period. If X is energy (as in bio), then you have a little bit of extra energy to spend after completing your minimum daily requirements.
The “leveling” system I use is directly related to the 0-4 subjective rating system that I use in many of my other systems and routines. A brief tangent, then:
0 Null, or complete inability
1 I’m not happy (with my result) and I couldn’t be less happy
2 I’m not happy, but I feel like I could have done worse
3 I’m happy, but I could have done better
4 I’m happy and I couldn’t be happier
Though I’m informally using the superlative forms here (happy, happier, happiest), you aspies need to remember this is a subjective system. So I’m reporting my immediate emotional reaction (“that felt great!” vs. “that felt pretty good”), rather than defining what exactly “happiness” is in quantitative terms. To illustrate, here’s the direct-substitution emoticon scale I use for weightlifting. I write this next to the objective measurement (weight and reps) to give me a feeling for how energetic I’m feeling, and whether I should increase the weight next time.
(Null = 0 = Skipped the lift, not-applicable, etc.)
:-( = 1 = Felt yucky
:-/ = 2 = Felt okay, not great
:-) = 3 = Felt pretty good
>:-) = 4 = Felt really good
Returning to the general description of levels of functioning, I rely heavily on the idea that each time period (day, week, month, year) has a certain “cost of living” in terms of each attribute (time, money, willpower, biological energy) and each person has an income that is either above or below the cost of living.
0 Incapacitation, inability, otherwise N/A
1 Dysfunction, income substantially lower than cost of living
2 Minimum functioning (most people in most categories of functioning), breaking even or slightly negative (highly vulnerable to shocks)
3 High functioning, consistently breaking positive, spending money exists but must be spent economically
4 Superior functioning, income is high enough that spending money is relatively post-scarce
X level 0 = incapacitation
Bio level 0 means you’re too sick to get out of bed, or comatose, or similarly laid up. Conscientiousness level 0 means you are effectively exerting zero willpower over your life; your actions have no correspondence with your desired actions, personal values, or long-term goals. Financial level 0 means you’re in the gutter, or entirely supported by parents, or otherwise totally dependent.
X level 1 = High dysfunction
Bio level 1 means you have some energy, but not enough to complete your basic activities of daily living. Maybe you can manage to get to work, and scrape by long enough to make a paycheck, but you otherwise lay around and watch TV and you get sick easily. Regular exercise is out of the question.
Financial level 1 means you are underemployed, deferring student loans and other bills (or just ignoring them), living off of unemployment, or similar.
Sleep level 1 means you’re a chronic insomniac.
X level 2 = Minimum, low-functioning
I mentioned this before, but level two people are extremely vulnerable to shocks.
Bio level 2 means you have enough energy to get by, but no more. You might be able to get to the gym every now and then, but exhaustion will kick in (in less than a week) and you won’t be able to keep it up. When you get sick, it knocks you flat on your back.
Financial level 2 means you can pay most or all of your bills, but you’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck. Saving and investment are still out of the question. If the car breaks down, you either look for outside help (family, friends) or spend a long time saving up.
(Story time! This actually happened to me two years ago. My car broke down while I was working at McDonald’s, and my parents couldn’t cover it, being chronically level 2 folks. It took me six months to save up the necessary $800, even though I was living with my parents.)
Sleep level 2 means you get maybe seven hours of sleep per night when your body needs eight for good performance. If you miss a night, the sleep debt never gets recovered.
X level 3 = High-functioning
There may not seem like much difference between a monthly income of $900 and $1100, but if your bills each month amount to $1,000 there is a world of difference. This is because you now have $1200 extra per year for investment and as insurance against major financial shocks. This is essentially the description of financial level 3: exponential growth through investment is now a possibility (though you still have to be frugal). That’s one of the reasons I describe this as “high-functioning”- it’s robust, versus fragile.
Bio level 3 means you have the energy to exercise regularly, which eventually pays off as an investment when your baseline energy level rises. You want to go to the gym, most days. You still have to use your energy wisely, but investment is now possible.
Sleep level 3 means you get a little bit more sleep than you need every night. You have no chronic sleep debt, because any shocks (sleepless nights) are effortlessly paid off over the next couple of weeks.
X level 4 = Antifragile, Superior functioning
At this point, the attribute in question is no longer an immediate concern. There are still theoretical limits that you can reach through stupidity (lottery winners go broke all the time), but you have essentially entered post-scarcity. This is also relative to other concerns, because you still have to prioritize one thing over another due.
Bio level 4 means energy is not an obstacle to adding new activities to your schedule. You are now only constrained by other factors, such as time and conscientiousness.
Financial level 4 means price is usually not a concern when you are deciding on a purchase. You pick your car based on your preferred style, not your budget.
Sleep level 4 doesn’t really have a real-life counterpart, although I suppose you could make an argument for high-level sleep hackers.