Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
One important aspect of goal setting that often gets overlooked, is having a plan to regularly check on one's progress. I briefly mentioned in my post last week about the importance of goal setting. Not only is it important to have goals that are measurable and descriptive, but also that we consciously set road-markers to check on our progress regularly.
One of my goals last year, and specifically for this site, was to "write more". Since I didn't have a clear picture of what "more" meant, my vague and open-ended goal didn't materialize. Indeed, I started 5 draft post over the course of 365 days, but the only one that ended up being published was my assertion that I would spend more time creating content for this site. In a way, I met my goal. I wrote more, even if none of those draft posts ever saw the light of day.
This year, my goal is a lot more tangible and concrete:
I will produce one article every week, touching on a subject of personal motivation, goal setting, time management or self-improvement. At the end of the year, my expectation is to have at least 52 published articles on this site.
In this case, the check on whether I have made progress on this goal is binary. I did it, or I didn't do it and the tally goes up every week. For me, this is more an exercise of discipline than it is raw output. I could easily produce 52 articles in a short span of time, and check off my list that I successfully completed my goal of publishing 52 articles. Being committed to making progress on the promises we make to ourselves is just the start to achieving our goals.
Self-reflection then is the map we check to make sure we are on the right path. And just like navigating on a map, if we don't check our progress regularly, it is likely we will end up in an entirely different place than we intended. Just like goals have to be descriptive and measurable, so must the markers we put up in order to be able to ascertain that we're on the right track.
Another goal I have this year, is to lose 15 lbs by March 31. Let's break that down. If I currently weigh 200lbs, I will weigh 185lbs on March 31. There are 12 weeks between today, January 6 and March 31. How will I know if I am in fact losing weight? I have to step on a scale. How often? My research shows that it is normal that our body weight fluctuates by 1-5lbs on a daily basis, so once a week should be enough. A healthy weight loss should be no more than 3lbs per week, in my case, I should aim to lose 1.25lbs per week, or 15lbs/12weeks.
From here, I have enough information to reflect on what worked that week that resulted in my weight at the end of the week. I also know that there are multiple factors that impact body weight. I can think back at what did I eat? How much of it? Did I do exercise? What kind weights or cardio? For how long? What can I do differently next week? What should I continue doing?
Setting up small markers to help one adjust course is incredibly important in achieving our goals. Make sure you set some time aside to put actions to make your dreams come true!
Have you set goals for 2019 yet? How will you keep your self accountable? Let me know in the comments below!