Seeing your goals—with charts

Steve DaumWhile new year’s resolutions may already be long forgotten by many, those who are committed to personal goals continue to try to keep on the path to reach these goals early in the year. Good news: PQ Systems can help!

As we know from commercial applications of charting techniques, it is always far easier to garner information from numbers when they are illustrated visually, in charts or graphs. Even photos can help clarify meanings: A Melbourne, Australia, suburb trained volunteers to measure litter on the streets, giving them photos to support understanding of operational definitions of litter. (One cigarette butt in the gutter was not considered litter; two or more, or those on the sidewalk, were.)

So we have some ideas about supporting your personal goals for 2014 with visual use of data—a specialty of PQ Systems.

Charting data related to weight loss is commonplace, of course. Services such as Livestrong.com or Fitbit help to keep a running chart of weights entered daily, over a period of weeks, months, or years. Even crude hand-drawn charts make the point and demonstrate trends of weight loss or gain.

But you have at your disposal charting software that not only can show such running entries of data, but can also create control charts and provide the statistics of your weight-loss efforts. What is your median weight over a period of weeks? How can you tell that your weight is in control, beyond knowing that you just look a little better? If you use Excel to enter your data, importing it to CHARTrunner gives you all of this information with a click of your mouse.

How about supporting your effort with photos: what you eat, what your dress size is, how many notches you’ve tightened your belt? These photos can be imported to your chart to support motivation as you pursue your goals. Inserted notes can identify special causes (e.g., “daughter’s wedding” may help explain an out-of-control spike in your weight data).

While weight loss is a frequent goal for new year’s resolutions, there are clearly others. Perhaps you want to save more money for a specific purpose: college tuition, a new TV, a travel opportunity. What better way to see how you’re doing than to enter your accrued savings amounts on a chart?

Other goals that are susceptible to charting:

  • Blood pressure figures
  • Days without smoking
  • Exercise statistics: running times, heart rates
  • Number of steps taken in a day (10,000 recommended)
  • Reduction in debt levels
  • Expenditures for home maintenance
  • Time spent in conversation with children each day
  • Amount of time watching TV

Really seeing your progress will support your efforts to keep on track with your goals.  A simple list of numbers may represent data, but does not provide information.

Former New York mayor Ed Koch used to say to his constituents, “How’m I doin’?” If you’ve charted your progress with new year’s resolutions or other goals, you’ll be able to answer this for yourself—instantly, every day. Let us know how you’re doing.