John C. Maxwell once said, “The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
In other words, the things you do regularly, your habits, will eventually turn into your destiny. So how can you create and implement the kind of habits that will lift you up and empower you? One of the best ways is through a process known as habit tracking.
The Power off Habit Tracking
Take a moment to answer these questions.
Where do you want to be in five years from now? How about ten years from now?
What does your happiest life look like?
Now that you have a vision of what you want your life to be like, what habits can you implement into your life that will lead to the life of your dreams?
Studies have shown that creating routines that become habits is the best path to creating the kind of life you want to live. You can develop new habits using habit tracking.
A habit tracker is a simple way to measure if you did a habit each day or week. Habit tracking can help you visualize your progress. It can also motivate you to show up and give your best the each and every day.
You can use many different formats for tracking your habits, from check lists, to calendars to dot grids or wheels. You can use these for tracking your habits, building new habits or breaking habits you want to rid yourself of.
The biggest reason to use some type of habit tracking is it helps you to become more mindful of your behaviors. This will help to reinforce your habits as you hold yourself accountable for your daily actions.
Not yet convinced about the power of habit tracking? The following are 5 reasons why you should begin tacking your habits today.
Why you should start habit tracking:
1. It’s a daily reminder to take action.
Studies have found that people who keep track of their progress are more likely to succeed at what they want to accomplish than those who do not. This includes people trying to rid themselves of unhelpful behaviors like smoking and overeating. By tracking your habits daily, you are reminding yourself of the actions you need to take in order to reach your goals. This greatly increases the odds you’ll actually DO them.
2. Habit tracking provides the motivation to keep going.
Progress is a great motivator. As you track even the smallest win, you are reinforcing your motivations to continue on towards your goals!
3. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment.
How good do you feel when you check items off your to-do list? It feels great, doesn’t it? The same goes for every time you mark a daily habit as complete. You get a wonderful sense of accomplishment! This feeling of accomplishment will add to your motivation to continue working on your habit the next day.
4. Habit tracking makes it much more likely you’ll reach your goals.
All big accomplishments start with small actions. By breaking your big goals down into small habits that you track, you’ll feel more confident and in control. Your habit tracker will help you keep track of your efforts which will make it much more likely that you’ll reach your goals.
5. Monitor your progress.
As time passes, you’ll be able to see how far you have come from where you started. Take some time every month to review your previous months. This will allow you to appreciate how far you’ve come.
Tracking your habits and goals will have a compound effect on your happiness. Are you ready to start?
How to start tracking your habits:
1. Write down your outcomes or goals.
To define what’s important to you, write about the life you would like for yourself. What does the happiest version of your life look like?
2. Create habits that will help you achieve the life you envision.
What goals are most important to you? What habits can you develop that will help you achieve those goals? Here’s a list of goal ideas you could use habit tracking to develop or get rid of:
Make your bed
Eat healthy meals
Stay away from fast food and junk food
Drink 6 to 8 cups of water
Stay away from your phone or tablet until you’ve been awake for 30 to 60 minutes
Stand up from your desk and walk around every 50 minutes for 5 minutes
Practice yoga three times a week
Job three times a week
Meditate daily in the evening
Go for a jog three times a week
Read one book per month
Track your daily spending
3. Add no more than 5 of those habits to a habit tracker.
Now that you have a list of habits you want to create/get rid of, pick no more than five habits you can start tracking today. Add these habits to your habit tracker.
4. Every time you do a behavior, mark it in your habit tracker and then celebrate your success!
Whenever you do the behavior you want, make a mark or write it down in your journal or in your phone’s notepad. This will help you develop the habit of using your habit tracker regularly. Remember to celebrate each habit as you complete it!
Here’s an Example of Habit Tracking
Let’s say the habit you want to create is to track your spending so that you can take charge of your financial life. First you would write down this goal and then write down why you want to use habit tracking to achieve it. In this example let’s say it’s to reduce your financial stress and to help you save for retirement.
Next, use B.J. Fogg’s ABC model to help you create the new habit. For those of you who are not familiar with this model, A is for the Anchor behavior, B is for the new behavior and C is to celebrate the behavior when you do it.
Let’s say the anchor behavior is Whenever I open my wallet (Anchor) (or pull out my credit card or tap my phone – however you spend money the most) I will make a write the amount I spent in my habit tracker (new Behavior). When you do the behavior celebrate, perhaps by saying “Yes! Or Great job!”
After doing this for a while you’ll find that you’ll pull out your habit tracker whenever you spend money. You’ll know exactly where your money is going.
Habit Tracking will help you feel in control of your life.
Habit tracking is simply a tool for you to keep track of what you actually do. This will allow you to examine your behaviors the same way a scientist would. As you look back on your weeks and months, you’ll have a picture of what you did and did not accomplish. This feedback can help you see progress, and also give you clue as to where you can improve!
As you track your habits, you might also notice different patterns that you want to make a note of. For example, maybe you notice that the days you exercise you feel like you have more energy. Make a note in your journal then review your journal at the end of each day and week to remind you of how successful you are. This will reinforce your behavior by making you feel that your efforts are worthwhile.
Remember that developing a habit takes time and repetition! Sometimes forming a habit can take months.
Don’t feel discouraged if you forget to do something one day. Instead, gently forgive yourself and then make a commitment to complete it the next day. Habit tacking can be the key to helping you stay motivated as you keep track of your daily progress.