As we work towards our Goals, it’s easy to get discouraged, because we don’t always see progress. We want a quick result or at least something we can see every time we look, but that’s not how we should measure progress all the time. Sometimes, our progress has to be measured in the daily actions we take.
When we look at one of the most common Goals, weight loss, it’s easy to see why it’s also one of the most common abandoned Goals. Losing weight is a long process if we do it right without endangering our health. Even weight loss surgeries won’t guarantee immediate, observable results each day. Yet we weigh ourselves daily, looking for more progress; and we get disappointed when it stays the same or fluctuates up and down. What’s important is the trend, not the day to day changes.
That needs to be repeated.
What’s important is the TREND, not the day to day changes.
If we want to make sure the trend is going in the right direction we have to do the right things each day to make that happen. We won’t be perfect at them, certainly not at first; but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep at it. Keeping with our weight loss example, what are the daily things that we can track that will give us progress towards our target weight?
First we need to break down what it takes to lose weight. Broadly speaking this means we burn more calories than we consume. We exercise more and we eat less. More than what and less than what?
Second what are the things we can do to make those happen? For exercise, it should be simple. If you don’t have a gym membership or any equipment at home, then the easiest thing to do is walk. Walk 30 minutes a day. Or if 30 is too much at first, walk 10 or 5 minutes. Then do it again the next day and the next. Almost everyone can do this.
What about eating less? This one is harder, because we have to eat to live. Food is a necessity, but it should’t be an addiction. Decide what meals you’ll eat each day. In this example let’s decide on a moderate breakfast to start off the day refueled and ready. Then a light lunch and a moderate dinner. We should define what moderate and light mean. This includes portion sizes and calories. We should also make a list of foods we should eat and foods we should avoid.
What else can we do? There are certain habits we should develop to go with exercising more and eating less. Getting up early, at the same time each day of the week, is essential. You can’t have breakfast if you don’t give yourself time to make and eat it before work. You can’t exercise in the morning if that’s your preferred time. You can’t take time to review your day’s tasks and appointments. All of these things are essential to a successful day, and you can’t do them if you get up 20 minutes before you have to leave the house.
Third, and possibly the most important factor in your progress, is to create a tracker of some kind. Even a sheet of paper with handwritten lists of the things you want to do and seven boxes for the days of the week will do. Get up at 6am. Exercise. Shower and dress. Make/eat a good breakfast. Review goals and your schedule. Types of foods and quantities eaten. Amount of water drank.
Figure out the most important things to track. Pick three actions and track those for two weeks. Add one or two actions to track every two or three weeks until you’re doing and tracking all the things necessary to lose weight. This will let you see progress each day as you check off each item or record the amounts. It builds a sense of Success, and you build momentum. On a weekly basis you can check in on the Goal that’s driving this. Weigh in on the same day at the same time each week and record that. Don’t worry about the number for a bit. Your daily actions will take care of that for you.