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There are sayings that advise us not to pay too much attention to progress: “a watched pot never boils”, for example. We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of time slowing down when you really want something to happen, especially when we were kids.

By contrast, one of the cornerstones of Brief Therapy is that of measuring movement towards a goal; understanding the progress you are making is not only motivating, it also helps to counter negative beliefs about failure and boost confidence.

I chanced upon a study by Benjamin Harkin and colleagues that supports this. Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment? shows that if you want to change your behaviour, you are more likely to achieve your goals if you regularly monitor, and note, your progress.

And don’t keep it to yourself. Even though people often invoke not wanting to ‘tempt fate’ as a reason not to talk about partial success, the study shows that it actually helps to go public. As one of the authors explained “we recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress.”

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Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment?

2 Responses to “Watch the Pot After All”

  1. I do believe this. When I set a goal for myself, by telling others – friends and family, I receive extra support and encouragement which always makes making my goal easier. Human nature makes us not want to let others down so because we have told others about our goals I think we work harder towards them.

  2. Great, thank you Sue. Acknowledging our incremental successes also helps to train the mind to look out for more of them.

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