Promising Practices

Up against a deadline, I can pull an all-nighter and still function. I can deal with cranky people, manage in chaotic situations, meet deadlines, cook decent meals when I need to, keep my house sort of organized, and multi-task with the best of them.

It seems when I put my mind to it, there’s a lot I can do. Except one for one thing.

Lose weight.

I simply haven’t been good about managing food choices. That recently changed when I found an article written by a woman who suggested, along with a number of other strategies, the idea of eating the same thing (or variations of the same thing) every day. As a result, every day for breakfast I now eat one slice of toast, one piece of fruit and one 40 calorie yogurt. I’m adapting the same kind of approach for lunch and dinner. While it might not work for everyone, the simplicity works for me. Albeit slowly, I am beginning to see results.

It appears I have taken advantage of a promising practice. But what exactly is a promising practice?

Whether it’s because of declining resources or a recognition that things aren’t working as well as they could be, many within such sectors as health, social services, business, education and recreation are seeking and cataloguing best or promising practices. Promising is becoming the more common term because there’s never one “best” practice for everyone.

While it seems there is no universally accepted definition of a “best practice”, for many a best practice is a practice that upon rigorous evaluation, demonstrates success, has had an impact, and can be replicated.

The United Nations Population Fund defines them as planning or operational practices that have proven successful in particular circumstances and which are “used to demonstrate what works and what does not and to accumulate and apply knowledge about how and why they work in different situations and contexts”.

UNESCO describes best practices as having four common characteristics: they are innovative; they make a difference; they have a sustainable effect; and they have the potential to be replicated and to serve as a model for generating initiatives elsewhere.

These days however, it may be there are other, and perhaps somewhat less quantifiable, elements that must be in place before a promising practice can really be labeled as promising.

In my opinion, to be promising, a practice must be functional in delivering one or more specific and desirable outcomes or benefits. In my case, the benefits are not just losing weight as they are as much about health and overall self esteem. Additionally, if a practice is to be labeled promising, it must be one that is affordable and practical to implement. In this case, there was no cost at all involved in me adopting the practice. Lastly, there is a less clear and perhaps more subjective element that is a more about one’s personal reaction. The practice being considered must somehow strike a chord, resonate, or trigger in some way an intuitive response. In my case, there was something about the idea of simplifying dieting by limiting the options, thereby reducing both time and temptations, that just rang true as a viable and different approach. 

When looking for solutions for delivering increased personal, social, economic and environmental benefits, it can be overwhelming to research the promising practices that already exist. However ultimately none of us really can afford, nor need to, reinvent the wheel in today’s information age. Regardless of the solution you need, the promising practice is likely at your fingertips in the form of a google search engine.   

Posted on 11-08-09

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