It’s Easy & Motivating to Track Goals with This Method

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Chip and I in our new "robes" settling in for bedtime. It will be lights out by 10pm (my goal).

In 2008 I decided to make 2 heatlth changes. This health goal was the easiest one I ever implemented. In any given week I am 95-100% compliant with drinking 10-12 cups of water daily.

This change, however, continues to be difficult. It still requires ongoing monitoring in order for me to get to bed by 10pm on a consistent basis. I am 40%-50% compliant.

The last week of December I decided it was time to implement 2 more health goals. They both have to do with mindful eating. I decided to start that week instead of waiting until January 1, 2012. I knew I had to make the changes ridiculously easy in order for me to stick with them.

What are these ridiculously easy goals you ask?

1. Don’t eat after 7pm. I am a HUGE mindless evening snacker.
2. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. I am a breakfast eater, but I am trying to ingest more superfoods and vitamins on a daily basis.

Here it is January 7th and I have been doing well.


I cannot believe how well the “Don’t eat after 7 pm” change has been working for me. Several times I got food OUT of the fridge for a snack. Then I remembered to look at the clock and saw that it was past 7pm. BUT I really wanted that snack!

I told myself I COULD have it. Only not then, in the MORNING. For some reason my brain and mouth were okay with that compromise.

And my eyes were VERY happy to see 6 /’s on the calendar by the end of this first week in January. I am putting a / through each day that I don’t eat past 7pm.

I went to a party Wednesday night. I knew I would eat after 7pm. I did allow for the calories and adjusted my food plan accordingly that day. I am not sure how to handle these types of situations as far as my / goes. Yes, I did eat after 7pm. But it was a planned for and mindful eating. Any advice?


It has been simple to have the smoothie for breakfast. It is tasty and easy to prepare. And I like that it is portable for those mornings when I don’t leave enough time to eat before going to work.

My eyes were VERY happy to see 7 \’s on the calendar by the end of this first week in January. I am putting a \ through each day that I drink a green smoothie.

So when I do both on a particular date, there is an X on the calendar. This simple marking system is very motivating. (I’m a simple woman.) I am in good company though. I read this technique is used by Jerry Seinfeld.


Jerry calls this “Don’t Break the Chain.” The difference between our markings is that he uses an X for one goal. You can read about that here.

There is something psychophysically satisfying in seeing a row of X’s. It makes me THINK about whether I REALLY want to break that chain. Luckily, so far, my answer has been “NO!” So, one week down and 51 to go.

You can buy one of those HUGE year-at-a-glance calendars to reward progress. Or you can go to this site and print out a calendar which has the whole year on one A4 sized page. Chris Vertonghen created a (free) pdf  for leap year (this year!) and non-leap year calendars. THANKS, Chris, for this helpful resource.

Or you can use a regular calendar for this. I do. I know I will not have a year filled with mindful eating. So I know there will be times when I don’t get a /, \, or X. That will bug me. It will bug me so much that I will be soooo tempted to not continue with tracking my goals. By using a regular calendar I am setting myself up for success. Each new month (only 29-31 days) brings me the opportunity to have all X’s. That will please and motivate me.

Your Turn . . . 

  1. Do you think this marking method would work for you? Why or why not?
  2. What is a goal (or two) you could monitor using this method?
  3. What do you do to keep track of and motivate yourself regarding your goals?

Related Posts . . . 

Entry filed under: goals, Main. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Gillian Rouge  |  . at .

    Hi Susan, sounds like you are making good progress with your health goals. I am thinking of trying your ‘no food after 7pm goal’, except for I will make it 8pm instead. Often we don’t eat dinner until close to 7pm, so that wouldn’t work for me. I like the idea of checking off each day on the calendar. I work well with lists, and always feel a sense of accomplishment when I am able to go back and check things off, so I think this would work well for me. I agree with you though, that it is best to start each month with a clean slate.

    What do you put in your ‘green’ smoothie? Several of my friends make smoothies for breakfast, and I know it is a healthy way to start the day. However, in the winter, I like to have something warm for breakfast, so I usually end up with oatmeal and fruit. The thought of a cold smoothie makes me go Brrrrr! Last week I made pumpkin oatmeal – it was delicious! But back to your smoothie – I’m told that if you put spinach in a smoothie you don’t even taste it, but you still get all the nutritional benefits. Have you tried this? Maybe it is what’s turning your smoothie green :)


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57 Thing To Do During my 57th Year

The Big DayMarch 12th, 2016
6 months to go.

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57 Things I’ve Done by March 2016

1. Bought Personalized 2015 Photo Calendar
2. Bought Personalized Stamps
3. Wrote 2 Blackout Poems
4. Movie Marathon: The Good Witch Films (7 of them) -watched with Marsha
5. Movie Marathon: Star Wars: Phantom Menace
6. Family Special Time (Lennon, Kadie)
7. Movie Marathon: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship, The Two Towers, and Return of the King - watched with Lori
8. Gathered contents & sealed a time capsule to be opened July, 2018,
9. Made snowman 2015 ornament.

57 Books I’ve Read by March 2016

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
2. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
3. Inspiration Sandwich by SARK.
4. A Man of Grit and Grace: Paul by Charles Swindoll
5. Prayer: Life's Limitless Reach by Jack R Taylor
6. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
7. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
8. MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
9. I'm Glad I'm a Mom: Inspirational Stories of Love, Laughter, and Everyday Life by Hearts at Home
10. The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
11. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
12. Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent
13. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
14. Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant
15. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
16. What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
17. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
18. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
19. The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance by John Trent & Gary Smalley
20. The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds by Rip Esselstyn
21. The Pursuit of God Paperback by A. W. Tozer
22.-25. Last Light, Night Light, True Light, & Dawn's Light (a Restoration Novel Series) by Terri Blackstock
26.. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
27. The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnson
28, One Thousand White Women: The Journals of Mary Todd by Jim Fergus
29. Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding
30. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
31. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
32. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
33. Laddie; a true blue story, by Gene Stratton Porte
34. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
35. An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louise May Alcott
36. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
37. Miss Julia Lays Down the Law by Ann B. Ross
38. Persuasion by Jane Austen
39. A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz
40. Emma by Jane Austen
41. Thrush Green by Miss Read
42. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
43. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge

Stuff I’ve Written and When

Book of Braille Sculptures

By Elizabeth Symington



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