There’s a lot to be said for setting targets. There’s obviously quite a lot to be said for monitoring what you’re doing. For example it’s pretty well known, and recognised, that if you want to lose weight one of the things you should do is tell people you’re going to lose weight. That means that you can be you can rely upon your friends and colleagues to give you some support. It will also mean you have some accountability, too, as they look and silently judge your efforts. 🙂
Another useful thing you can do, of course, is monitor your progress, perhaps with some kind of weight loss app. That way, as you see the graph going down, you’re motivated to carry on doing those things (however hard) that mean you’re losing weight. Basically, what measures gets managed, as they say in industry.
The problem with this of course is it all rather depends on things going in the right direction, in the time frame that you can recognise. A great friend of mine called called Dave Algeo developed a concept called “Healthier than yesterday“. He means it in the liberating sense of something like “It doesn’t matter how fat, slow, whatever you are in absolute terms; what matters is that you’re trying and improving”. I think is a great idea (thanks Dave!) but it does have one fundamental problem if we take it too literally – and that is that improvement rarely go in a straight line. Today might or might not be better than yesterday. That’s not the point! The real issue is that this week is better than last week… (I should point out that Dave himself doesn’t take it literally – I checked!)
But, that doesn’t sound as sexy as healthier than yesterday.
Going back to my weight loss app, it doesn’t just track my weight on a day-to-day basis, it also gives me a 3-day and a 7-day rolling average, so that I can see what the trend is over a few days. That’s important, because I might blow out today or might blow out yesterday – and maybe even increase my weight for a few consecutive days. But that’s not going to be the end of the world is it?
It’s only the end of the world if that carries on week after week – what matters in the long-term, is a downward trend.
All too often we forget this, and start looking for improvements and changes in the immediacy – and when that doesn’t happen return to give up. So let’s be honest with ourselves
Let’s be honest with ourselves, about improvement, either in terms of speed, efficiency, quality… or in more personal things like being a nice person. It’s not about being better than yesterday (sorry Dave) it’s about better been better than last week.
Or in some cases it might even be “better than last month”, or “better than last year”. The timeframe is important. It’s important that it is measured relative to what it is we’re trying to improve not what society tells us we should be using as timeframes.
- I’d like to think that my relationship with my friends are better than yesterday, but in all honesty I know that I’m going to have an argument with somebody at some point. What is important is that the relationship with my friends family whatever whoever is better than it was this time last year or better than it was three months ago.
- I went to the gym this morning and my skipping was slightly worse than yesterday (okay, it was rubbish!) which is pause for though, not the end of the world. I can take it as motivation to work harder; and I can also look at the trend – a few months ago I couldn’t skip at all!
- I recorded a Podcast episode this morning. It took a bit longer than it usually does (I think, I don’t measure it to the minute!). That doesn’t mean I’m getting worse at podcasting – it just means I was off my game this morning for some reason.
And a big one… My Mother-in-Law has had a heart attack recently and is struggling to recover from the surgery that followed it. Reports (yes, phone calls are on a daily basis and they really do feel like a School Report) consist of the number of steps taken, food eaten and hours slept. People are going bonkers worrying about the fact that the recovering patient didn’t eat as much yesterday as the day before! But so long as she’s eating enough not to die of starvation before the next chance she gets to eat, the key metrics are measured in weeks, not hours or days.
But in the heat of the moment and with the worry involved, we all forget that and start to get sucked into the worry game.
Action point: stop. Take a step back and ask yourself over what time-frame you really should be expecting to improve at whatever-you-want-to-improve at. Faster-than-yesterday might not be important compared to faster-than-last-week. Stronger-than-last-week might not be as important as stronger-than-last-month.
And happier-than-ten-minutes-ago might not be as important as happier-than-yesterday.
Over to you!
Ever found yourself worrying about something that, with just a little perspective, looked a little different? Of course – the question is recognising it and figuring out how we’ll not be so daft next time 🙂