Monitoring Resolution Progress

Maintaining a checklist may seem a bit over-the-top, but it does help.

Yes, I’m a geek. And yes, I’m somewhat compulsive about some things. But I really think it helps to stay on track with goals and objectives. Here’s what I mean.

The Weight Tracking Table

Back in 2012, when I finally got serious about losing weight and lost 45 pounds in four months, one of the things I did that I believe helped me to succeed was to create a weight monitoring chart. It was a simple list of dates with spaces to record a daily weight reading and body measurements.

Weight Loss ChartHere’s the first three months of my chart. I stopped tracking my weight on paper when I moved home to Arizona, but got all the way down to 149 pounds (from 196) by the middle of October.

Although most diet plans tell you not to weigh yourself daily, I did. And as the weight ticked down day after day, with minor upticks along the way, my success — clearly indicated on the chart I kept on the back of my medicine cabinet door — positively reinforced my efforts. Not only that, but I when I fed those numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, I wound up with a cool chart that showed my progress. (I told you I was a geek.)

I didn’t take body measurements daily. It was a pain in the ass to do. But the few measurements I did record show my progress and also helped reinforce my efforts.

My point is this: when you set a measurable goal, it might be a good idea to track it on paper (or in some other recording tool). This gives you evidence that you’re on target. And as you get closer to achieving your goal, you can feel good about it, not just when you reach that goal but at various points along the way.

Note that my weight chart shows upticks. Whenever a weigh-in showed me to weigh more than the previous day, that made me think about what I’d done that might have given me this setback. It made me work harder to stay on track. After all, with a goal like losing weight, the longer it takes, the longer you have to make sacrifices to reach your goal. It’s in your best interest to stick with it so you can minimize the time you’re making that big change in your life.

(And please don’t think that once you’ve reached a weight goal you can go back to your old ways. You can’t. Those old ways got you where you were. Just keep in mind that it’s harder to lose weight than to maintain a healthy weight once you’ve taken off the extra pounds. The main sacrifices come in the losing weight stage. After that, the “sacrifices” are fewer and must become part of your lifestyle. With me, that meant portion control. It wasn’t until I went back to my huge portions that my weight began creeping up again. I’m nipping that in the bud now.)

This Year’s Chart

Because I have five New Year’s resolutions this year, my chart is a bit more complex. It has multiple columns since some of my resolutions have multiple parts. Some columns get simple check marks. Others get numbers.

I created the chart in Excel, since it’s a grid, but I don’t expect to record the data in an actual spreadsheet. (I’m not quite that much of a geek.) Instead, I printed it out and put it on my bulletin board. Each morning, after writing in my journal about the previous day, I record the previous day’s results. As I look at the chart I have a concrete, in print record of how I’m doing.

Resolution Progress Chart
My New Year’s Resolution Progress Chart. I suspect that this will keep me on track — at least as long as I keep printing new charts and recording my progress on them.

Over-the-Top?

Is this approach over-the-top? Super anal-retentive? Evidence of an obsessive compulsive personality disorder?

Maybe.

But I think the reason many people don’t succeed with New Year’s Resolution goals — or any other goals, for that matter — is because they don’t have a daily reminder of what that goal is. It’s not in their face. There’s no one looking over their shoulder to make sure they stay on track.

This is my solution. The chart is in my face and I’m looking over my own shoulder, making sure I stay on track.

And, as always, I’m the only one that can ensure my own success.

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