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zen habits: Zen Habits March Challenge, Step 3: Evaluate your progress

Monday, March 12, 2007

Zen Habits March Challenge, Step 3: Evaluate your progress

Every Monday is Weekly Review on Zen Habits.

Five days ago, I challenged my readers to join me in setting and achieving a single goal in the
Zen Habits March Challenge. Step 1 of this Challenge was to create a plan, and Step 2 was to report your progress.

OK, we're a week into the March Challenge, and this is a good time to step back and look at how we're doing. If you're not doing the March Challenge, these steps are still a good way to see, hands on, how to go about setting and achieving goals.

Reflect on your week
If you've been tracking your progress some way, either through commenting on Zen Habits, a journal, a chart, a log, or an online service, you've got a great way to look back on the last week. If not, you can still reflect on what you've done throughout the week and think about whether you're doing as well as you planned.

How are you doing? Have you met your goals for the week? If so, celebrate! If not, now is a good time to take some steps to put you back on track.

Re-evaluate your goals, and your obstacles
If you're not doing as well as you'd hoped, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Adjust your goals. This is my recommended solution. It may be that you bit off too much, too soon. When starting a goal program, I highly recommend you start small. Take baby steps. Go for something you know you can achieve. That way, you'll definitely make it, and feel great, and then you can move on to higher elevations. It may seem cheap to shoot for something too easy. Take my word for it -- sticking with something for more than a week feels great, even if it seems easy.
  2. Evaluate your obstacles, and make a plan. Why didn't you reach your goals for the week? What stood in your way? It's dangerous to ignore this reason. Did you not feel motivated? Not have enough time? Did something pop up at the last moment that made you reschedule? Whatever the reason, it's best to plan for what you'll do if that reason repeats.
  3. Re-focus. Perhaps you just lost focus. You need to re-commit yourself, tell the whole world about it, and find a way to maintain that focus daily. Put up a poster, or print your goal out in large letters. Put up your goal plan for everyone to see. Maintaining your focus is the No. 1 thing you can do to stay with your goals over time.
  4. Step up the motivation. Perhaps you didn't feel too motivated. Go back to the Top 20 Motivation Hacks, and see if there are others you can use. The more motivation tricks you use in concert with each other, the better.
You can do this! Whatever you do, stay positive and stay focused. Do not let a little slip in your progress get you down. Creating new habits is a skill, and it takes practice. You won't get it on the first try. If you have any doubts, any thoughts in your head that say you can't do it, SQUASH THEM NOW! And replace them with positive thoughts. That's the best thing you can do to get back on track.


Anonymous said...

great post

I've had to reevaluate my goal slightly due to the bed frame I want been out of stock for another 3 or 4 weeks or so. In the meantime though there are still lots of things for me to do towards my goal and I remain focused on achieving it.

best of luck to everyone else with their goals!!

Anonymous said...

I hit the gym again today, but this week may be a challenge as I am on break from work (I work as a teaching fellow). Having lots of time during the day sometimes gives me too much time to procrastinate. I didn't make it to the gym until about 11:00am. (I'm usually there between 7:30-8:30am). I'll still be keeping track and staying motivated though.

Anonymous said...

So far so good! I've curbed my smoking cravings by throwing myself into some serious at home and professional projects. While it hasn't been a full week yet, so I don't want to celebrate too much, I feel really good. I feel smoke-free and good.

Leo said...

@Stayfly: You're doing great ... it's awesome how you didn't let yourself get sidetracked by an obstacle, and stayed focused on your overall goal. Keep up the great work!

@Ann M.: You're doing very well ... and it's good that you're anticipating the obstacles this week. Plan to deal with them ... set a time when you work out and try to stick to it. Keep your momentum going!

@Mollie: Celebrate away! Quitting smoking is not an easy goal, and you're doing terrific. I like how you've created a positive habit (working on the projects) to replace the negative habit. You're quitting a bad habit and getting a lot done at the same time! Keep it up ... and feel free to email me if you have an uncontrollable urge.

Anonymous said...

I have been successful in my plan to quit diet Coke since I started last Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon, I felt like having a second diet Pepsi, but I didn't. I never posted my complete plan, so here it is now (some borrowed liberally from this site):

Goal: Quit diet Coke by March 31.

Motivation: Joining this challenge and posting on this site and viewing others’ posts.
Wk 1: 1 diet coke today (started 3/7/07) , 1 diet PEPSI (to break the coke habit) Thurs and Fri. each, one diet PEPSI on weekend--I had NO diet cola on the weekend! I forgot that I planned on one!
Wk 2: 1 diet PEPSI on 4 weekdays, 0 on weekend
Wk 3: 1 diet PEPSI on 3 weekdays, 0 on weekend
Wk 4: 1 diet PEPSI on 2 weekdays at beginning of week (3/25 & 3/27), 0 through rest of week.

Posting my progress on this site. Telling other people about it. Track progress daily on my PDA and on an Excel spreadsheet. Visualize goal for 5-10 minutes daily. Say “I can have a diet Coke anytime I want to. I choose not to because I want to feel better and to stop squandering my money.”

Rewards: Feeling good, feeling more energy! Create better health. Stop depleting calcium. At the end of each successful week, completely relax on Sunday evening and do no work of any kind.

Obstacles: Stress at work in the afternoon, when I want to turn to a diet Coke or sweets. Solution: start work earlier thus making the afternoon shorter. Schedule lunch and exercise in early afternoon.
Tally my quitting urges in my PDA. Take three deep breaths, and get a glass of water or a bottle of bubbly water. Visualize success. Email zenhabits (at) gmail (dot) com if I feel like stopping.

Leo said...

Great job, Balfour! I love that you're using visualization. You've got a solid plan, and you're making great progress. Carry that forward through the rest of the month! Feel free to email me anytime if you get really strong urges.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Leo. One more reward: at the end of the month, upon success, I will get a massage, a real treat.