I have tried every diet under the sun. Sadly, my self-discipline has never been strong enough to achieve long term results. But there was one time when I did really well. And the reason for that success is a great lesson for achieving goals. So simple. So powerful. Here it is.
OK. I know it simply comes down to eating less and moving more. But easier said than done. For me, anyway. I struggle with managing a healthy weight. Such a simple issue to fix. Yet I find it incredibly hard. I comfort eat. Balloon out. Then I do a weight loss ‘blitz’, lose 10 kgs, feel great, get busy, get stressed, and kapow! Those jeans I put in the ‘throw out’ pile as they were hanging off the ‘new’ me….well, they are back on, top button undone as it can’t be done up.
But one system did have a longer term effect. That was Weight Watchers. It really did work, for months- until I stopped going to the weekly meetings. And in that single statement is the magic to achieving goals. Simple. Powerful. Needs discipline to do. Here it is.
People do what is inspected, not what is expected.
Heard that phrase before? Sounds trite? Maybe. But it is true, dammit.
Weight Watchers works (for me anyway) because you turn up every week to be weighed, by a stranger, with your week’s result up there for all to see… for you to see. When I went to Weight Watchers, I made damned sure I’d get a great weekly result. There was nowhere to hide. I had to face the numbers every week. And I made damned sure they went down, every week.
It’s a proven phenomenon- called The Hawthorne Effect. Subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior which is being experimentally measured or monitored, in response to the fact that they know they are being studied.
It’s the same with fitness and exercise for me. If I use a personal trainer, my effort and results go through the roof. I am being monitored. Measured. I want to get positive feedback, to do well. I put it in, much harder than I ever would if I was doing it alone, non-one watching, no-one monitoring.
So- what’s the message? Get a ‘Conscience’
It depends what makes you tick, I guess. But if you are anything like me, then acknowledge that to achieve goals and make solid progress, you need a ‘conscience’…. Whether that is a weekly weigh in, or a trainer pushing you to do 20% more than last time, or a set of measurable Key Performance Indicators on a job or project- whatever it is, set yourself achievable, short term goals that are regularly measured and reviewed by someone whose views you care about. And if you want to raise the performance of a team or colleague, set these types of goals, and review them- regularly.
The weird thing is, it works! And the longer you have the self-discipline to keep the system going- reviewing, fine-tuning, acknowledging, rewarding, recalibrating- the better the results. Give it a go. It might just give you that extra nudge you need.