Measuring progress

Charlotte Sheridan
3 min readNov 28, 2022

Hello and welcome to week eight of my Advent Calendar of Change; 12 bite-sized exercises from my new book Swim Jump Fly: A Guide to Changing Your Life.

Have you ever built a sandcastle? Perhaps you remember being engrossed in making turrets and digging out the moat. Maybe you forgot to stop and check if the structure was straight, lost in the joy of it… until the sandcastle collapsed under its own weight.

We can get so involved in our change projects that the idea of stopping, stepping back and reflecting can pass us by. This blog post is a reminder to do just that.

Like many people I became quite unhealthy during the pandemic. I wanted to eat better quality food, get fitter and lose weight, but I found it hard to stay motivated. Part of the reason for this was that I couldn’t see any improvements, which was quite dispiriting. That made it harder to keep going. In fact, I was actually making good progress, but was focusing my attention in the wrong places.

Below are a number of tips that will help you assess your own progress, whatever your project — big or small:

I didn’t weigh or measure myself at the start so had no idea whether my efforts were working. Tip number 1: Baseline. Know your weight/size before you begin a health programme (note to self). Know where you are before you begin a change project (note to everyone else). How will you know how far you’ve travelled unless you note down the starting point?

Over the first few weeks I couldn’t see any progress on the scales. However, I could fit into my old jeans because I was losing mass. Tip number 2: Different ratings. Working with different measures means you’re more likely to pick up smaller steps in your progress.

After six weeks I realised my focus was too narrow. This was a health campaign after all, not just weight loss. I started doing HIIT sessions and walking most days. This kick-started my progress. Tip number 3: Bypass roadblocks. If progress stalls find a different route.

As well as how much (weight loss/fitting into my clothes/exercising), I focused on how well — how I was…

Charlotte Sheridan

Psychologist, coach, writer, photographer… juggling them all but often dropping balls.