In August we looked closely at breaking goals down in various ways; into chunks of time, into a game, into difficulty blocks and into different segments of your life. Each chunk, mini-game, block or segment has a beginning, middle and end so you can understand when it’s time to move on to the next part of the change process.
Evaluation helps us decide when we have achieved each part of the process so we can confidently move on. The ability to evaluate your achievements with clarity provides you with moments of celebration, opportunities to congratulate yourself on the change so far and chances to reflect on the challenges and efforts made to reach each point.
Without honest and measureable evaluation we can only rely on our lag measure for feedback. Remember, lag measure is the result you see after the period of change is finished and does not take into account the steps you have taken to get there. Relying on your lag measure may provide temporary success but without understanding the steps taken to achieve this change it is far more likely that you will slide back into poorer health habits rather than maintaining the change in the longer term.
A Yoyo dieter who spends 2 months eating little more than diet shakes would be the perfect example here. They are focusing on the lag measure of final weight loss but have not developed any lead measures to inform their long term goal of maintaining the new, healthier weight. If they succeed they are no better informed on how to maintain this weight loss for the long term and if they fail they have little useful information on how to improve their chances the next time.
Without effective and planned evaluation steps in place we give ourselves the easy excuse, or we blame other people or cite difficult circumstances as a justification for the lack of success. When we use lead measures to evaluate our success we anticipate these problems and plan around them, either by changing tactic or changing the expected outcome to reflect the issues faced over the course of our change phase or mini goal.