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Are you Winning? Evaluation part 1 of 3

In the last few weeks of this year we'll discuss the importance of evaluating your successes (and failures).

Evaluation, measuring change, change habit

We’ll look at when and how to evaluate your goals, the importance of understanding your change journey and how to apply the information you learn to future attempts or new goals.

We’ll show you how to celebrate your successes and be clear about the impact your changes have made on your life.

We’ll look at how studying your failures can give valuable insight into your future health plans and teach you some easy methods to learn clear lessons from the mistakes you make along the way.

Finally we’ll give you a maintenance checklist so you can truly take charge of your health, vitality and longevity.

Taking time to appreciate the wider implications of the changes you are making is a positive way to keep you steering straight for that healthy lifestyle. This comes down to having a clear evaluation strategy.

What is evaluation?

This is the simple process of checking that you achieved what you aimed for. In the series 'Using Visualisation to help achieve your goals' we looked at how to clarify your goals with imagery, affirmations and visualisation and in the series 'Four ways you can organise change' we broke these down into manageable and measurable chunks.

Evaluation is the process used to study how these efforts have enabled you to achieve the desired goal. To evaluate we must measure.

There are two types of measure we can take, a lead measure and a lag measure. While the lag measure will guide our One Big Change, our lead measures will feedback on the steps we take to get there.

A lag measure is so called because it can only be evaluated once it is too late to make necessary change. If a hospital canteen measured the success of the menu based on the food returned, this would be a lag measure. They may know which menu choices were not eaten on any particular day but they have no way of providing that lunch service again. Another example would be judging the success of your diet plan by your holiday pictures. You can tell if you reached your goal by judging your shape in that picture of you in the swimsuit but not in time to remedy it if the results aren’t pretty.

Conversely, a lead measure is one which drives us closer to our goals. Our hospital canteen lead measure would be the menu planner sent round each morning which informs the canteen staff what to provide. For our holidaymaker, a lead measure might be daily calories consumed or exercise classes attended in the four weeks before the holiday.

Our One Big Change is a lag measure, our steps towards it are our lead measures. We can evaluate our lag measures after the event, however our main focus should be on evaluating our lead measures, those we can use to effect change.

Next week we'll look at why we should evaluate and in week three of this series we'll study the phases of evaluation and detail exactly how you can use them to stick to your goals.

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