Keeping track – creating goals – dealing with reality –creates clarity and keeps me honest to myself. It keeps me accountable for my behavior – for my own choices. I don’t have to share my records with anyone else. I find when I keep track, good things happen – probably because I am dealing with reality, and not with that enemy of clarity – selective memory.
I am constantly battling my weight. I’m always chasing that elusive “ten pounds” that so many of us just never seem to get around to losing. Unfortunately, that “elusive ten” sometimes balloons to twenty pounds – or even a little bit more.
You know when that happens? It happens to me when I decide I don’t want to spend the time to keep track of what I eat and drink. Keeping track in this case means keeping a diary of everything I eat, with calories, fats, carbs and proteins counted, and comparing my actual intake to the goals I have set – every day. I reach a point where I am convinced that I know – from past experience and from past keeping track – how much I can eat and what I can eat So why spend the time on recording what I already know?
Unfortunately, I have a pretty good case of selective memory. It’s so easy to remember the good days and so easy to forget the bad days. To slip from reality into a state where I fool myself. As Ingrid Bergman once said “ Happiness is good health and a short memory.” As an actress, she didn’t have to deal with reality – very few of us have that luxury.
The last time I made the decision to stop recording what I eat, I gained ten pounds in the following ninety days – ten pounds that becomes more and more difficult to shed as I get older. No big change in eating habits – no change in exercise habits – just a little bit here and a little bit there. And a selective memory that fooled me into believing I hadn’t really changed my eating habits. I’m back to keeping track, and I see where those little snacks and larger portions that I kidded myself into believing would have no effect did, in fact, add weight.
If you’re dealing with weight, or self development,or job performance, or any of a thousand other challenges and goals, keep track. Write down what is most important to you and then keep track of how you are progressing toward where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be an involved process – keep it simple so you persist in recording. And keep it honest – that’s where clarity and reality start.
In my experience, and the experience of many, many successful people, keeping track in the form of goals is the most important single thing you can do to reach where you want to be.
Do it today – pick out one thing in your life that you really want to change, improve or attain. Then define your goals, and then spend 10 minutes a day keeping track of your progress. It’s the best 10 minute investment you can make.