Trying to achieve physical health goals?
You are more likely to achieve a goal if you monitor your progress.
But some methods of monitoring progress are better than others.
Publicly or physically recording your progress boosts success rates.
For example, joining a weight loss group where people regularly weigh themselves in front of other members improves the chances a person will achieve their weight loss goals.
The conclusions comes from an analysis of 138 studies that included 19,951 people.
Most people were trying to achieve physical health goals such as lose weight, quit smoking, change diet or lower blood pressure.
Lead researcher Dr Benjamin Harkin, of the University of Sheffield, said:
Monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that comes into play between setting and attaining a goal, ensuring that the goals are translated into action
The more frequent the monitoring of physical health goals, the greater the chance of success.
Another key finding of the research was that you also need to focus your monitoring on the end result you are looking for.
For example, if you want to lose weight, you should monitor and record your weight, not your diet.
Monitoring diet when trying to lose weight tended to result in changes in diet, not weight.
Dr Harkin said:
The implication of this finding is if you want to change your diet, then monitor what you are eating, but if you want to lose weight, then focus on monitoring your weight
Dr Harkin also noted:
Our findings are of relevance to those interested in changing their behavior and achieving their goals, as well as to those who want to help them, like weight loss programs, money advice agencies or sport coaches
Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others
Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin (Harkin et al., 2015).