Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Accountability: Resolution Tracker

Here we are, nine days into the year and I am already trying to come up with a way to track resolution progress. It is not because I am ahead of schedule on any resolution and need a place to applaud my progress. Indeed, it is just the opposite. Ash and I agreed to check in on our resolutions each month to hold each other accountable but I think I will be woefully behind and entrenched in my bad habits if I let it go that long. So here, I am in week two looking for a better path forward.

Report card? To do list? Online tracker or iPad app? What works best? After giving it lots of thought this week, I settled on the following options.

1. Start a resolution group with friends. Having a weekly or monthly check-in with friends who have similar goals may help encourage progress. It can also lead to having a buddy to work through resolutions with. If writing is a goal, join a writing group. You'll have someone to review your work or someone to share it with. You'll also have assignments and someone to share your progress with. The same goes for living a healthier life. You can weigh in together or even work out together. I know if someone is waiting for me at the gym, I am more likely to go than I would be on my own.

2. Break resolutions into daily, weekly or monthly to do lists. I find that breaking goals into smaller bites makes them seem less daunting. For example, "Lose 30 pounds" can be broken down into the following for the first week:
      a. Weigh in for starting weight
      b. Plot your starting weight and goal weight on a chart (or join a service that does it for you)
      c. Look at your daily calorie intake and figure out how many need to be cut for you to meet your goal
      d. Join a group or online community (Weight Watchers or Sparkpeople (free)) that can help with meal
          suggestions, recipes, exercise suggestions, encouragement and calorie tracking
      e. Make a grocery list and stick to it
      f. Find healthy menu options at your favorite restaurants
      g. Do some form of exercise at least once this week

3. Create a visual reminder of your progress (or lack thereof). Having a calendar or chart in a prominent place (i.e., next to the bathroom mirror, over your desk, on the fridge) that you can mark everyday to show whether you were on or off track can help encourage your forward. Get creative with it. Use stickers. Whatever gets your through. I'm thinking of doing a calendar and putting green stickers on days where I am on track and red when I am off. I think seeing more than a couple of red dots will get me moving.

4. Reward yourself when you stay on track. I may not eat a huge piece of cake as a reward for eating healthy all week but I may go out to dinner rather than cooking at home. I may treat myself to a massage after sticking to my 365 project for 60 days or go out for drinks with friends after sticking to my health resolutions for 30 days. For me, that would kill two birds with one stone since spending more time with friends is one of my resolutions.

These options may or may not work for you. Heck, they may not work for me. Part of figuring out the best path is to know yourself. I know I am a chart and list maker. I get joy out of crossing things off of my to do list. It feels like stress melting away...or freedom. Whatever I settle on will require some form of daily list. I also know that I respond well to working towards a reward. The group thing is harder for me but it has worked before so I'm down for it.

Ultimately, the reality is that I just have to get up and get going. No one is going to give me the time. I have to create it. I certainly carve out time to watch TV or to sleep in on the weekends. It's time to do that for the betterment of my life.

What are your ideas for sticking to your resolutions?

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