While there is no rocket science to making behavior change, small changes in your approach can make a big difference. So I am always on the lookout for evidence-based practices that may hold small but important insights into how we can make lasting behavior change.
For example. a new article in the Psychological Bulletin reviews 138 studies that examine the effects of monitoring your progress towards a goal to achieving that goal. While the connection may seem to be common sense, the real issue is how to I do it to maximize the effect. Said directly, is there a way to monitor progress to maximize its impact on goal attainment?
According to the evidence the answer is yes - make it frequent, public and recorded. To quote the meta study:
“Furthermore, changes in the frequency of progress monitoring mediated the effect of the interventions on goal attainment. Moderation tests revealed that progress monitoring had larger effects on goal attainment when the outcomes were reported or made public, and when the information was physically recorded. Taken together, the findings suggest that monitoring goal progress is an effective self-regulation strategy, and that interventions that increase the frequency of progress monitoring are likely to promote behavior change.”
The daily huddles that characterize successful SCRUM coding teams and lean daily improvement efforts are examples of how well this results holds up in practice.