Many of us try out new habits to improve the quality of our lives.
Often they do; whether it’s starting a daily practice of flossing, reading, or writing – or else; new habits can transform our life experience. But if you’ve tried to instill new daily habits before, you’ll know that they can be challenging to maintain for the long term.
So why haven’t you been able to continue your habit of playing your instrument daily, drawing, writing, or drinking eight cups of water?
7 Reasons to Start Tracking Your Habits
Whatever habits you’ve been trying to follow for the last few years, likely, there’s something you’ve been missing.
Is it a simple case of lack of discipline, or do you simply not have the right strategy?
Let’s find out.
The Truth: You Don’t Track Your Habits on a Reliable System
You don’t need to measure your habit of brushing your teeth to do it daily.
…And there are probably several other habits you can think of that you don’t track yet do consistently i.e. making your morning coffee, reading the paper and so forth. From that perspective, you don’t need to track your habits.
But when it comes to setting new habits, we have a lot more resistance to deal with.
Think of starting a new habit of pushing a rusty old bike up an uphill climb. It’s going to take some time before we reach the in-flexion point where we’re speeding downwards and things are easy. To help us make that climb easier, we need a feedback loop.
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C Maxwell
We can do this by setting up a tracking system, on a spreadsheet or app, that allows us to give ourselves a check-mark/cross mark for each new habit we’ve accomplished each day.
In reality, the luster of starting a new practice can dissipate sooner than we’d like to admit.
We need a system to help make us those little pushes when the going gets tough.
Without any accountability, we increase the likelihood of forgetting about our new habits altogether. Having a tracking system helps us stay committed.
You Have Negative Beliefs About Tracking
Plugging in check-marks, crosses, and metrics into a system can make you feel like a mad nerd sometimes. And for some, that feeling is going to make them self-rationalize not tracking their habits for the long term.
Look, it’s okay to be obsessed with your habits. Why? Because, they determine your life and where you’ll end up in a month, year, and a lifetime.
Tracking your habits makes remembering and following all your patterns easier in the long term.
Who doesn’t want that?
Forget what your mind is telling you about this being a waste of time. Just because the average person doesn’t do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – unless you want to be average. With the right habits, you can slowly grow into the person you deserve to be.
Find A System That Works For You!
Let’s say it’s someone’s aim to write 1000 words. And while they don’t always hit that target, just the fact that they plug in how many words they write on a document daily, allows them to feel good about their progress or bad about their lack of progress.
That emotional feedback is what you need for each of your habits to maintain them for the long term.
So find a system that’s easy to use that makes it likely you’ll track your habits every day.
Try a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, mobile apps, a written page, or the number of tools available.
Keep in mind, whatever system you use, at the outset of starting new habits, ticking them all off daily for months on end is most likely not going to happen immediately.
That’s okay – because these are new habits, that go against years of pattern. Naturally, ingraining good habits a lot longer than we’d like to think. So, the importance is to track each new habit, focusing on improvement in the long-term, as opposed to perfection.
“People do not decide their futures; they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” — F.M. Alexander
The 7 Benefits to Tracking Your Habits
1. You’ll be likelier to achieve your goals. By breaking down your big goals into small habits, and tracking them, you’ll feel more confident and in control of your destiny.
2. Tracking your habits on a daily basis gives you a sense of everyday accomplishment. Meaning, you’ll have more motivation to keep them going the next day and so forth.
3. You’ll learn which habits you find difficult being consistent in, thus making it likelier that you’ll make adjustments.
4. You will feel in control of your life and won’t look back on the week with a sense of forgetfulness – you’ll know exactly what you did and didn’t do.
5. You can break your social media addiction by tracking how many times you check email and social media on a daily basis.
6. You can make the connection between your habits and your current life, meaning that you’ll appreciate just how powerful they are and use them accordingly.
7. You’ll start to recognize that everyone is where they are due to the compound effect of their habits.