Track Your Progress – What We Measure Improves

  • Sports teams at every level track wins and losses
  • Universities track grades
  • Businesses track revenue, expenses, profits, etc.
  • Virtually all weight loss experts recommend tracking what you eat in a food journal

I think you get the point. Here’s the rule: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

We have to record and measure our results to know if we are moving closer to, or farther from, our goal. When we do, what we measure tends to improve. This fact has been proven repeatedly, in a wide range of endeavors. For some fascinating facts on this subject, (don’t miss this page!).

Tracking progress for weight loss

The reason is simple really – tracking our progress provides the feedback to show us if we are doing well or doing poorly, and it utilizes the natural impulse in all of us to improve, to strive toward the target we have our sight set on. I don’t know whether it’s related to self-esteem, competitive instinct or embarrassment, but when we see clear evidence that we are falling off track, it creates a tension that we seek to relieve. That tension translates into motivation, as long as we continue to monitor the results.

There are two small caveats to realizing the benefits of tracking our activity. We must:

  • Review the results regularly
  • Know what to do if corrections are necessary to move toward our goal

You have to review the results periodically. Tracking our activity is building the picture, but the harvest comes from reviewing the picture (our results). From the chart above, it’s clear that things took a turn around May 13 (better or worse, depending on what you’re tracking).

It’s a natural impulse to stop tracking results when things are not going well (e.g. weighing ourselves daily), but of course that’s the wrong thing to do. We need that feedback, like it or not, to remind us what action we should be taking.

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