You are flying a plane from coast to coast. When would errors in monitoring your direction be most costly to you? When you are 2,500 kilometers away from destination, 500 kilometers away from your destination, or 50 kilometers? If you are going the wrong direction from the start, you will run out of gas before you get even close. If you are only 50 kilometers away, you can make a small correction and still arrive at your destination. The farther you are away from your goal, the more costly the errors and miscalculations will be.
Monitor your progress frequently in the beginning. When beginning a new goal or task, monitoring is far more crucial than when you are close to completion. For something important, monitor your actions both at the beginning and at the end of each day. Once a goal is well underway, a gradual transition to weekly monitoring may be warranted. But for now, monitor your changes in exercise, sleep, and diet every day.
Monitor progress against your written plans. Check off items on your list each time you meet the task and timelines in your written plan. This is the reason for breaking the steps into several “by when” dates. All the tasks and steps must be clearly written and dated or you will get lost.
You can use formal tests or surveys to monitor progress toward health and learning goals. There are lots of examples of self-assessment tools for health. The BMI or Body Mass Index is a self-assessment tool to measure progress towards healthy body weight and physical health. Comparing your results over time will help you track your improvement and provide the motivation you will need to continue or to adjust your plan.
Get an expert’s opinion to monitor your progress. Use a mentor, personal coach or an independent third party to provide an unbiased viewpoint. When you know you’re meeting with someone weekly whose job it is to help you assess your progress, it’s much easier to stay focused. No one wants to show up and admit they did nothing. Monitoring leads to adapting your plans based on information. Then, you monitor the new plan, which leads to more change. Through this cycle, you both achieve the desired change and ensure you arrive at the targeted time and place.