more accurately aware if we objectively record significant events about
The importance of making accurate observations was underscored
in a recent study of people who had failed to lose weight on 20 or
more diets and weight loss programs. They all claimed "I eat like a
bird but I don't lose weight," "it's in my genes," "it's my metabolism,"
and "I eat less than 1200 calories a day!" When researchers carefully
recorded these people's activities 24 hours a day, it was found that
they ate twice as much as they said they ate. They were unmindful.
Careful recording of specific behaviors, reflecting your adjustment
in a problem area, is important for several reasons: it helps assess the
seriousness of your problem, it helps you identify the most important
behaviors to change, it contributes to setting concrete goals and time-
tables, it measures your progress in changing, it is rewarding, and
about 15% of the time self-observation is all you need. Setting goals
also increases progress.
Self-observation, recording the "target" behaviors and goal setting
are so important that they are part of the steps in any self-help
project. The comments here supplement chapter 2, steps 2, 4, and 7.
You may not count or rate target behaviors in every project, but there
should be at least vague awareness of (l) the more significant
behaviors to change, (2) daily observation of those behaviors, (3)
where you want to go (goals), and (4) some assessment of how the
behavior is changing over time.
Any of the possible purposes mentioned above.
STEP ONE: Select clearly countable or ratable behaviors or
feelings to record.
Chapter 2, step 2, gives directions and examples for doing this. Be
sure you are clear about the behavior to be recorded, otherwise many
of the above purposes will not be accomplished.
It may be helpful to specify the conditions as well as the desired
behavior, i.e. record the behavior-in-a-situation, especially when the
environment enhances the behavior (Methods 1 and 3). For example,
a student might record the minutes per day studying efficiently in
his/her "study" chair (and, therefore, not including the time spent
mostly watching TV but occasionally glancing at a book).