My ‘project’ for 2021 is a focus on health and wellbeing, and as part of the plan I will be monitoring progress through monthly reviews, which I’ll share here.

Monitoring should not be confused with evaluation – these monthly updates are not an assessment of whether or not my annual plan is a success or failure. Monitoring is to check the planned actions are being done, that the immediate effects of these actions are still contributing towards the overall goal and that the actions can be achieved with the planned resources. I’m using these monthly monitoring posts to see if there are any mini-corrections I need to make, such as altering the action/goal or committing more or less resources. I can also see if there is a particular area I need to lean into.

When reporting monitoring on projects I like to use a traffic light system. It’s simple to communicate but also simple to assess. Recently, I read a great post from ‘Live Well by Alison’ that describes an approach to healthy eating using a ‘good/sometimes OK’, ‘better’ ‘best’ system. I really like the simplicity and positivity of the system, and the way that it avoids the tendency to strive for perfection.

I’ve decided to use it when monitoring my health and wellbeing habits, so red = ok, yellow = better and green = best. Importantly, ‘best’ is not 100% for the month, but more of a 80/20 rule which is much more achievable and reasonable.

Exercise – In April I gave up on trying to develop an ‘optimum’ exercise routine as my actual goal was just to create a regular habit. Since then, I’ve been keeping up with 5km runs 2-3 times a week and have managed to build what feels like a pretty consistent habit.

Diet – This month I set out a simple eating plan, and created a proper shopping list. I’ve still been eating out 1-2 times per week but it’s been much easier to stick to my original intentions because the decision making only gets done once. My partner has also joined me in health dinners which makes things much easier!

This month I have also done an alcohol detox. This was to ‘re-set’ after I felt like a few bad habits and associations had been created. For example, finishing work on a Friday I found myself automatically heading to the pub and using alcohol to relieve stress. I’ve yet to feel the physical benefits, but I have found that I feel a lot calmer. Having this update has also made it easier to stick to the detox, as I know I’ll have to report on how I’ve done!

Flossing – Flossing now feels like a regular habit, especially during the week. I typically floss 5 nights out of every week, and because I’ve given myself permission not to need to achieve perfection, I count this as success.

Organisation – I dedicated last weekend to getting through a lot of life admin and chores that had been hanging over me. This meant forgoing the usual lie-ins and setting alarms both Saturday and Sunday, and pretty much keeping to a strict schedule both days, but the sense of calm I have gotten now meant it was worth it. I’m still not organised enough to be very forward looking, but my ‘to-do’ list is below five items and doesn’t feel totally overwhelming.

Stress induction – Work has been totally crazy, and the house is still in chaos thanks to ongoing renos. Despite all this I’ve managed to keep my health and wellbeing habits up, and I’ve found my alcohol detox has helped me cope much better with this stress. As in April however, I’m recognising that my plate is totally full at the moment and I cannot take on any additional projects or commitments.

Stress reduction – This month I used the money I saved from not spending on alcohol and treated myself to a Thai massage, meaning it was completely guilt-free. This was the traditional type, so not really relaxing, but I felt great afterwards. Next time I might go for something with a bit less muscle beating, but I do think it contributed to some stress reduction! I didn’t manage to organise any hikes though, so next month I’ll be seeking to get outdoors a bit more.

February’s update can be found here.

March’s update can be found here

How are your 2021 goals tracking? I’d love to hear how you are going in the comments!