Reassess Progress to Maximize Efforts
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How many times have you set a goal and not hit it? Have you ever felt as though you are trying hard but not making progress towards your goals? That happens all the time to many people with all kinds of goals. People with prediabetes might have goals for weight loss, physical activity, healthy eating, and sleep, and, big or small, these goals can appear to be far away.
These feelings can certainly be frustrating, but as a Lark DPP check-in mentioned, it does not mean that you failed. A careful assessment can show you just how well you may be doing, and give you some direction, if you need it, for making a little more progress. Here are a few ideas.
In order to make effective changes, it is important to know where you stand. You may be surprised at how far you have come when you step back and compare where you started to where you are now.
Lark can make this especially easy for goals related to weight loss, healthy eating, increasing physical activity, and sleep. With its logging and tracking features, Lark stores user's entries. You can always check where you were a week or a month ago, for example, and see how that compares to where you are today.
Along with looking at outcomes, that is, the goal and milestones on the way to the goal, it can also be helpful to consider processes, or actions that inch you closer to the goal. You might ask:
- How much time each day or week am I putting into my progress? Progress may require time to cook, exercise, or look up nutritional information.
- Am I keeping myself accountable by logging or tracking what I do? Progress may be quicker if you have a record of your decisions.
- When I have an opportunity, do I usually, sometimes, or rarely make a decision that gets me closer to my goal? It is natural and probably healthy to slip up sometimes, but letting too many opportunities pass by can leave your goal far away.
Sometimes it is true that you are falling short, sometimes not. Sometimes you've made a bit of progress, but not noticeable. Regardless, the practical way to decide whether to stay on course or what changes to make is to know how you are doing now.
If it turns out that you still feel as though you are falling short, it may be time to reassess priorities. It is possible that this goal is no longer right for this point in your life, whether for logistical reasons or simply for a change in interests. It may be time to set this goal aside and set a new goal.
Let's say that the original goal was to lose a certain amount of weight, and that is simply not happening. It could be that something else is a higher priority right now. It could be, for example, that you took on a new, busier job that is making it more difficult to get enough sleep. In that case, a more appropriate goal for this time in life might be to get more sleep. Or, it could be that you have a newfound interest in healthy foods, and want to focus more on what you eat than specifically on weight loss.
Most goals require you to put in a certain amount of time. Do you have enough time to make enough progress towards your goal to be satisfied? Or, could you modify your approach so you can be successful with the amount of time you have? For example:
- Losing weight could require cooking big batches of food so your overall cooking time is less or using a grocery delivery service to avoid spending time driving to the supermarket, shopping, and waiting in line.
- Getting more sleep could require using aids such as sleep lamps and a bedtime routine so you can get to sleep faster.
- Increasing physical activity might require taking walks from your front door sometimes instead of driving to the gym to use the treadmill.
Route or Reroute
Now that you have rededicated yourself to the original goal or dedicated yourself to a new one, it is time to look at how you will get there. Small steps add up to big progress, and they are easier to take on than trying to leap to a far-off goal. In addition, repeating healthy choices can turn them into habits so progress becomes easier and more natural. The small steps toward the goal need to be realistic for your own lifestyle, too. For example:
- It may make more sense for night owls to take early evening walks rather than pre-dawn walks.
- If you hate cooking, healthy habits to form might be checking nutritional information before ordering and packing up half the meal before starting to eat, rather than packing a lunch the night before and cooking breakfast.
- A meat-lover might do better adding in vegetables and whole grains, choosing leaner cuts of meat, and reducing sweets, rather than working on finding non-meat protein sources.
Turning healthy choices into healthy habits in a way that works for you is what Lark DPP helps with.
Consider Process versus Outcome
Whenever assessing progress towards goals and setting new goals, a bit of thought about process versus outcome can make all the difference. Outcomes are the end goals themselves, such as losing 40 lb. or running 2 miles. Processes are the actions taken to get to goals, such as swapping zucchini noodles for spaghetti or exercising at least 20 minutes 4 days a week.
It can be more satisfying and motivational to focus on processes because those are controllable. Outcomes may not be. At the same time, recognizing each milestone you hit can increase motivation as you can see that you are making progress.
It is not possible to hit all goals all the time, but that is okay. Simply working towards achieving goals is a success in itself. Plus, it is never too late to reassess the goals. It may be time to change course to make quicker progress, or change goals to realign with your current needs. Whatever your health goals, Lark DPP is there to support you.