The Power of Making Progress Visible

So, once upon a time, there was a woman who started using a fitness tracker. Her son-in-law got one first because he was trying to lose weight. Then her daughter got one, because she wanted to play along with her husband and also because she was trying to step up her exercise game a bit. So when the woman asked if she could use one, her daughter was happy to get her one. The woman knew that is was important that she exercise more regularly. She had started to notice a drop in her stamina and knew she had not been keeping up with her walking like she should.
Here’s a snapshot of some of her progress.


Now for those of you who have not seen a dashboard like this (it happens to be from Fitbit), the green circles and bars mean that she reached her goal on the days shown. Now you may be looking at this and thinking I thought you were supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day according to the experts. Well, that is true if you are a health adult. But this dashboard is for an 85-year-old woman who uses a walker after being struck by a car in 1999 while she was standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street. And then in 2008 she broke a hip. And did you see the part where she is 85? Now, how does the number of steps look? Pretty awesome huh? Now I may be a bit biased because this super walker is my mom.
Before putting on the tracker it was easy to find reasons not to exercise. We can all come up with a host of reasons to not exercise (or do whatever thing it is that we want to do or should do). I don’t feel up to it. It is raining. It is too hot. It is too cold. And so on. We have all been there. But with the tracker she was able to check in throughout the day and see how she was doing. She set goals and could see if she was reaching them. Now she is a bit competitive so she was motivated to make sure she got those green lines and circles. But she was only competing with herself. That is some of the best competition. Growing, learning, stretching just a little further. Achieving your own personal best. Now as I said, before being able to see how she was doing and having that visual and that accountability factor, she would skip days. After putting on the tracker she has met her goals every day for several years now, barring a few days when she had health issues such as the day she went for cataract surgery.
So how can you make progress visible toward a goal you want to achieve? I'd love to hear what you come up with.

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash