One of the most important things you can do to accomplish your goals is track your progress.
This simple habit gives you a massive advantage over yourself as you gather data on what makes you successful and when (and why) you may fail.
First, download a habit app to your phone.
I’m currently using HabitShare, which allows me to share my progress with friends (not an affiliate). Honestly, they’re all more or less the same. Whatever you use, make sure it allows you to export your data.
Next, compile a list of everything you want to track.
This is critical: You will only cultivate one habit at a time.
That means you’ll be tracking things without expectation of success. This is tough because we hate to document failure. Don’t look at it that way; it’s simple data collection.
You can track custom data points like when you wake up or how many calories you consume. You can also track binary data points like whether or not you exercised, stuck to a meal plan, meditated, or got to inbox zero. Track the things in your life that are most important to you.
I like to update my habit tracker every evening, just before bed.
Evening reconciliation has the added benefit of reminding me of the habits I’m working toward and helps put me in the right frame of mind for the morning.
Set an alarm for yourself so you don’t forget!
Remember, especially at the beginning of your tracking journey, you aren’t worried about being successful at everything you’re monitoring. My experience with this frame of mind is that I get depressed when I see the habits I’ve failed at, and I slowly stop tracking.
Again, it’s just data collection.
If you can accept that and stick to it, you’ll start to find yourself with a wealth of actionable data almost immediately. You’ll find correlations between certain habits, patterns, and common denominators behind successes and failures.
Here are a few fun examples I found for myself:
Monday is my strongest day for all habits. I’m more likely to fail to exercise later in the week. If I don’t exercise, I struggle to wake up early the following day. I struggle most with sticking to my nutrition plan on weekends. Meditating in the morning makes me more likely to read in the evening.
You can already see how having access to this information could make you better at building your habits. I know the data nerds of the world will say something obnoxious like, “Correlation isn’t causation.” Fine. But correlation is correlation, and that’s good enough for me.
You see even more significant macro patterns as you build your data profile.
I’ve been tracking my habits for years. I know that I’m more likely to fall off of my habit train in June or July and that alcohol is the single biggest catalytic factor in failing at all of my habits.
This knowledge helps me mitigate risk and make adjustments to ensure success. I’m also better equipped to forge new habits because I know when to launch and how to position myself for success best.
I hope this was helpful! If you’ve tracked your habits at any point, I’d love to know what patterns and common denominators you found for yourself.
As always, thanks for reading!