“Only two things in life are certain – death and taxes.” Heard this before? Definitely rings true during tax season! But I’d like to propose that something else is certain as well: Change.
While it often seems that we’re stuck in a rut, we know that change will come. Why? Because it has every time before! We used to be little, then we grew. We used to have flip phones, now we have iPhones. We used to have no clue about our health, now we’re educated on how to be healthy.
We know change is coming; yet we still talk about making changes as if it’s some elusive challenge. Change is certain. Progress is not.
So what’s progress? Progress in your fitness? Nutrition? Overall health? If change is anything different from the status quo, then progress is a change that is more specific, goal-oriented, and measurable.
Progress is a measure of relativity. You’re moving towards change in a specific direction. Movement on that trajectory is identified as progress. If you altered your habits to lose weight, but it resulted in weight gain, this is change but not progress. If you started a healthy diet to lose weight, and we’re gradually losing the weight, this is progress.
You need a goal in order to measure progress from change. PS- “I want to be healthy” is not a goal, it’s a statement. Make sure your goal has specifics, a timeline, and is measurable.
Specifics: Try “I will eat 3 servings of vegetables daily” versus “I will eat healthy”. By articulating the specific thing you will do, you will be more likely to actually do it!
Timeline: Create timeframes, start dates, and deadlines for yourself. Otherwise, your “Someday” will likely never come. Here’s a sample of a timeline - “I will eat 3 servings of vegetables daily for 6 consecutive weeks, beginning March 9th.”
Measurement: How do you know you’re not at your goal already? How do you know if you’re making progress towards your goal? Most importantly, how will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Measurement. This is key to the whole process of making progress and achieving your best self.
Ask yourself these questions to assess your goal for measurability:
- Can you count it?
- Can you create a percentage from your results to determine your progress? (i.e. I ate 3 servings of veggies 3 out of 5 days thus far= 60% progress towards goal).
- Can you make adjustments to your goal based on your findings from your percentage and experience? (i.e. maybe only 2 servings of veggies daily is more reasonable for you. Maybe 5 days weekly versus 7 is better for you).
*This is not to say that you should lower your standards, but continuing to progress on an adjusted goal is more beneficial than failing miserably on a strict, unattainable goal.
Ok, Let’s go over what we know:
- We know that change will come. The question is how, when, and in which direction?
- We know that progress is necessary for improvement, not just change.
- We need a goal in order to distinguish progress from change.
- Our goal needs to be specific, have a timeline, and be measurable in order to evaluate progress.
If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. So make a plan, make progress and achieve your goals. This success will build your momentum for future goals and future successes. Progress, not change, is necessary to become your best self.