Progress Before Perfection
Better habit adherence, better results.
Results come from what we do consistently.
However you define “progress”, and whatever your goals are, you enter coaching because you want something to change.
The food journal is a tool to track how consistently you’re doing the actions that lead to the results that you want.
Here are some questions to consider as you review your journal data.
Question #1: Behaviors: How closely and consistently are you following your plan?
- Consistency: How often have you done at least part of your planned daily practice? Most days? Be as specific as possible on the number of % consistency.
- Quality: How closely have you followed your specific daily practices?
- Troubleshooting: If you’re having trouble meeting your plan, have you worked on problem solving and/or troubleshooting to help learn more? Have you checked in with your coach whenever necessary? What patterns are you noticing?
Question #2: Outcomes: What’s working so far?
- Routines: What improvements are you noticing in your everyday routine? What’s getting easier?
- Results: How are those actions getting you results? In what ways are you feeling or performing better?
Consistency before complaints
Research has repeatedly found that, regardless of specific details,
The “best” program is the one you follow regularly.
If you consistently follow your planned program, even if “imperfectly”, you’ll see results.
If you want to improve your results, improve your daily behaviors.
The cool thing is that this never has to be “perfect”, or even close to it.
Research from PN Coaching looked at 1000 people and over one million data points. It showed that,
Just putting in some effort—no matter how small—changes things.
Even clients who did daily practices only about half the time saw some results.
Those results can add up to bigger improvements in health, mobility, and daily-life performance.
According to that data, the best balance between the pull of routine habits and deliberately changing them towards new habits, seemed to be about 50-79% consistency.
Clients who did their assigned practices about 50-79% of the time were able to make significant changes, while putting in a manageable effort and balancing their other life responsibilities.
The clients with the most consistency had the most significant results.
Some were driven and determined, looking for big wins.
Others didn’t have ambitious goals, but simply chose to prioritize their practices. They showed up every day and practiced, over and over.
Consistency tracking can be simple.
Although the research above used some complex math, you don’t have to.
Tracking consistency can be simple.
1. Define what you want to observe and monitor.
You decide what is most important to you.
For instance, you could use a more holistic approach of tracking whether you generally did something each day to move in the direction you want to go.
Or, you could focus on one or two targeted and specific actions.
It’s up to you.
Measure what’s truly valuable and useful to you, and what will get you where you want to go.
- Goal: You’re working on drinking more water.
- Practice: You decide to have a glass of water at each meal or snack. You know this could help you eat a little less, which will ultimately help you lose fat.
- Tracking: You want to focus on doing and tracking just this one item of water drinking for now.
2. Decide how to monitor, and track those actions.
In the case of drinking water, maybe you decide that it’s a simple yes or no a few times a day:
Did I drink a glass of water with each meal or snack?
One way to track this could be to make a little chart listing all meals and snacks, and give each meal:
- an X (yes, drank water), or
- an O (no, did not drink water).
3. Gather some data, then assess overall consistency.
Every time you eat, you jot down an X (yes, drank water with this meal) or an O (no, did not drink water).
At the end of the week, add up the Xs and divide by the total number of meals you ate.
In this example, you can see that you drank a glass of water 28 times that week, or 78%. Good for you!
4. Look for the “bright spots” and success patterns.
78% may be a big deal if you normally drink almost no water with meals, ever. That could be a huge success!
As you go through your food journal, notice what works best for you, and then figure out how to do more of that.
Are you more successful . . .
. . . at certain times of day?
. . . in certain situations?
. . . with certain habits?
Look for what is already working well. Where you already feel solid and confident.
How could you do more of that good stuff?
Find the system that works for you.
If doing something 90% of the time (or 80%, or 50%) seems too hard, no problem. This is your program.
You get to choose what you’re ready, willing, and able to do, and how often.
Maybe life feels crazy for you right now, and 40% consistency is a victory. 40% is a huge win over 0%. Nice work.
Maybe you’re regularly hitting 60%, but you think with some smart planning, you could get up to 70%. Go beastmode on that 10%.
Better consistency means better results.
Show up, and keep trying = results.
Take-home message #1: To make progress, you don’t have to be or do anything extreme.
You have to simply keep showing up, and doing the best in can in that moment.
Keep doing the few key things that truly matter for you, and then do them over and over and over …
Take-home message #2: Improving your daily choices just a little bit will probably improve your results.
You never have to be “perfect” or even “amazing”. Those are dreams.
Instead, shoot for “a little bit better”, right now.
Even small improvements and adjustments help.
How could you make that happen?
Write In Your Journal
Download the PDF below, or use the recording method of your choice to record what you eat and drink today.
Food Journal PDF – including consistency tracker (form-fillable)