Healthy Life / Part 3: Evaluate Your Progress
[This article is Part 3 in a series on creating long-term healthy lifestyle. Check out Part 1: Create Your Vision, and Part 2: Set A Goal, before reading part 3.]
Kelly, had a vexing, gaping pothole in her neighborhood, on a road she travelled daily. Every day for weeks, her mind would be somewhere else, when she’d inevitably hit that pothole *smack* in the middle, rattling her car and her nerves. Each time after the jolt, Kelly would vow to avoid the pothole on the next encounter, but seemingly to no avail. This happened over, and over…until one day, just before coming upon the pothole, Kelly actually remembered the pothole was there, and swerved just in time to miss it. She celebrated her success, feeling elated that she finally missed the cursed pothole. Each day thereafter, Kelly always remembered to avoid the pothole. She never hit it again.
This story illustrates (in a simplified way) how sometimes it takes many, many, many attempts at achieving our goal, before we actually achieve it. Along the way, rather than get discouraged that we haven’t achieved the goal YET, a strategy that will help us get to the goal quicker and with more self-compassion is “evaluating our progress”, with non-judgment, and with compassion.
Evaluating progress helps us know how much to adjust or ease up on our initial goals. We want to keep our goals do-able, so if we’re not able to achieve the baby-step goals, then we need to baby-step them even more, to something that we can actually achieve right now.
Studies show that people who keep a record of their health goals (diet, weight loss, exercise), are more likely to achieve and maintain those goals. The caveat is that the evaluation of progress needs to be done without guilt or self-criticism.
- Guilt, shame, or “shoulding” on ourselves actually keeps us stuck.
- By contrast, evaluating our progress with objectivity, self-understanding, and self-compassion has the paradoxical effect of helping us achieve our goals sooner, and with more ease.
Kindness is key to evaluating your progress in a way that will help you actually progress.
There’s a popular phrase from an ’80’s movie: “Do the right thing”. When it comes to making big health lifestyle changes, try to focus on “Do ONE small right thing“, rather than “doing ALL the right things”.
Small steps, self compassion, and openness to re-adjusting your small-step-goals will get you there!