As mayor of New York City, Ed Koch would greet his constituents by asking “How am I doing?” to monitor his popularity. Similarly, as you undertake attainment of goals, it is necessary to monitor progress toward achieving goals.
The method used to monitor progress varies with the goal. If one embarks on a weight loss program, progress is monitored by periodically weighing oneself on a scale. Wealth accumulation is monitored by analyzing monthly financial statements. Practice success is monitored by collecting and analyzing statistical data such as the number of new patients, collections and overhead on a regular basis. Surveys are utilized to monitor patient and staff satisfaction.
To illustrate the importance of monitoring progress, the goal to look fit for the 20 year high school reunion is envisioned. Strategies and tasks are developed to lose 12 pounds over a period of 6 months through calorie reduction and increased exercise. There are numerous ways to monitor progress; weighing oneself on a scale, evaluating tightness of clothes, mirror observation and compliments from others. If at the one month weigh-in the scale shows a two pound weight loss, the current program is continued as planned. However, if there is no weight loss it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of current strategies. Does caloric intake need to be reduced with a more aggressive diet? Does the intensity of the exercise program need to be increased? Without the periodic monitoring the need to change strategies to meet the goal cannot be determined.
Referring back to the minor goal of accumulating $100,000 in wealth within five years, progress is monitored by reviewing financial statements periodically. If, as the end of the five year period draws near, an examination of financial statements indicates a deficiency in savings as a result of depressed economic conditions, the deficit can be overcome by saving additional increments of income during succeeding periods. New or modified economic strategies (reduced spending, increased savings, change of investment strategies) may need to be introduced into the blueprint.
Monitoring progress, or lack of it, is a never ending process. It is applied to major goals, minor goals and tasks. It needs to be continued during good times and bad. Routine monitoring of an individual’s personal and professional financial, physical and emotional success allows for minor adjustments that are easier to accomplish than waiting until a disaster occurs requiring a major life adjustment. Tweaking financial strategies noticed after observing a minor reduction in savings is more manageable than realizing after 30 years of working and personal overspending one cannot afford to retire. Losing of a few pounds after a winter of inactivity is more manageable than managing a heart attack brought on by years of physical and dietary neglect. Dealing with minor personal conflicts is easier to manage than a major emotional breakdown. Monitoring progress minimizes veering off the road to success.14,15