What if you had a way to become a more amazing person without having to make a major change to your life?
Maybe you’ve never considered how much your small, daily habits actually impact your overall success. We tend to think of success as coming in big bursts, but it is actually the things you do every single day that add up, like compound interest, into lifelong success.
Tracking your daily habits helps you develop and grow because:
- Habits contribute to your success and propel you toward accomplishing your goals, so knowing what your habits are (and if they’re moving you towards the person you want to be) is valuable information.
- Habits compound over time; a little procrastion today is no big deal, but if you procrastinate every day, you’ll lose more and more time.
- Tracking habits allows you to measure your performance over time, especially in the short term, and provides you with feedback on how you’re doing, what your progress is, and can keep you motivated.
- Habits make up who you are, the good and the bad. If you saw your daily habits written out on paper, would you like the person you saw?
- Focusing on a habit over time, bringing just that one habit to the forefront of your mind and attention, allows you to fine tune it and make it work for you.
For all of these reasons and more, we are releasing a progress pad to help you track habits like a pro. Because your success depends on small changes and improvements over time -- and we want you to be successful.
Habit tracking to make progress on your goals
Most habits develop without you realizing you have them. That’s why, when you want to consciously make a change to an existing habit or start a new one, it can be hard to implement it and get started. You have to change something that is deeply ingrained, or start something you’ve never done before -- and that’s hard work.
Keeping track of a new or changing habit avoids unnecessary and unreliable guesswork or forgetfulness. Plus, tracking a habit every day keeps you motivated in the short term so you can keep it up long enough to see the long term impact and results.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, offers many great insights and suggestions on habit tracking and is a great resource to reference further.
A habit tracker in its simplest form is a tool to measure whether you did a habit. And what feels more satisfying than checking off a task accomplished? A habit tracker could be a calendar where you mark the days off, or a list that is more complex to track your activities, emotions, roadblocks, etc.
If you’re like me, once you get started, you’ll want to keep it up and not miss a day. Seeing this visual will motivate you and remind you to keep the habit going.
Your memory (without you being able to control it) often favors or inflates accomplishments and progress, so this factual record gives you a much better record of your progress over time. A habit tracker makes it so much easier to really see how far you’ve come.
How do you choose what habits to track?
We all have lots of habits -- good, bad, and indifferent. You can’t track them all, and you don’t need to. Instead, it’s better to be laser focused on creating or improving a small set of habits that will have the most meaningful impact on your life.
The best habits to track are:
- Important to you and your goals
- Most impactful to you in the long run
- New to you, that you need help establishing
- Specific and measurable (eg. number of steps taken each day, as opposed to a vague idea like “be more active”)
- Something you actually want to do, as opposed to something you “should” do but hate
- Not so challenging or beyond your current level that you’re setting yourself up to fail
How do you start the habit tracking process?
To get started:
- Brainstorm what habits you are going to track
- Don’t pick more than a 1 or 2 to track at a time
- Determine how frequently they need to be done (eg. daily, weekly, or monthly)
- Plan how you’ll mark record your progress each day/week/month
- Decide where you’re going to track your habit, if it’s a planner, calendar, app, or electronic file like Excel
- Choose any other relevant data to track like emotions, etc.
How do you keep up with habit tracking?
Keeping track of your habits is, in a way, another habit you have to develop. It might take a while for you to get used to it.
So to get the most out of the process, you want to make it as easy for yourself as possible:
- Record your habit right after you do it so you don’t forget to do it later.
- Have your habit tracker handy so you can record your progress right away by keeping it with you or near where you do the habit.
- Keep plenty of stickers or the pen you’ll use with your habit tracker so this isn’t an excuse not to record it. If you find using something like stickers is too much extra work, be open to changing your plan and using a basic pen to check off boxes.
- Keep in mind that tracking your habits may be temporary, but most likely you intend to have the habit itself last forever. Just because you stop tracking doesn’t mean the habit should stop; if it does, it might be time to start tracking again. James Clear says, “A habit is a lifestyle to be lived, not a finish line to be crossed.”
- Don’t give up if you forget a day. Instead James Clear suggests never missing your habit twice; if you don’t do it one day, make sure to do it the next, because repeatedly forgetting the habit is a new habit in itself. So true!
- Build in rewards for yourself as weeks or months pass, so you’re incentivized to keep checking off that box day after day.