Inducing change in one’s life is never straightforward and easy, as it usually involves adopting new thinking patterns and behaviours, building new habits, and letting go of those that no longer serve us.
So, when we do that and things get hard, we quickly fall into cognitive traps that divert us from our path to our goal, such as changing our mind about the importance of achieving the goal. And, the biggest ally to prevent that from happening is the skill of self-monitoring, so we can intervene on time.
Self-monitoring is the act of regularly checking in with your feelings, thoughts, and actions to assess how they align with your plans and goals.
It is an act of frequent self-awareness (i.e. in which you assume a meta-perspective as if you were someone outside yourself) during a journey of goal attainment. Just like a friend who comes by every now and then to ask, “How’s it going?”
It is great if you are able to mobilise the social support of others holding you accountable as well. However, nothing beats becoming your own best friend, coach, and cheerleader on your self-leadership journey. It will make you more independent, provide you with insights about vulnerable situations, and accelerate your learning and progress.
If you’re not used to checking in with yourself regularly like that, you can start building a self-monitoring habit by taking five minutes at the end of each day to reflect on your progress by asking these 8 questions:
1) What was your goal for that day?
2) Did you achieve it?
3) What went well?
4) Which situations could you have handled differently?
5) When was the earliest you could have intervened to take a different course of action?
6) How can you use your strengths better in challenging situations?
7) What action steps can you take now to avoid tricky situations that may throw you off track in the future?
8) What other support systems can you tweak or put in place?
If you do this self-monitoring practice over time, you will be able to get greater self-knowledge, identify patterns in your emotions, thoughts, and actions, as well as how they relate to each other.