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How and Why to Track Your Habits

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A habit tracker is a simple, effective way to keep a habit going for life.

The most successful people will measure, quantify and track their progress in many ways. Every little measurement gives feedback. This gives them an indication of progress and where they need to make changes.

Gabrielle Hamilton, a New York City chef, is a great example. In an interview with The New York Times, Hamilton stated that “The only thing that distinguishes a chef from a home cook is that they taste everything before we commit it the dish. Even the grains of salt.” We sip olive oil from shot glasses and then aerate it in our mouths like we were trying to understand a wine. Before we use the oil, we taste it. We also taste the butter, the meat, and the milk. Finally, we chew salt to get a feel for its flavor, salinity, and how it feels in our mouths.

The Habit Tracker: What it is and how it works

An easy way to determine if you have a habit is to use a habit tracker. You can start by making a list and marking off the days you follow your schedule. If you meditate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, each day gets an X. The calendar records your habit patterns as time passes.

The Habit Journal includes 12 habit tracker templates, one for each month, to make it as simple as possible. Simply add your habit to the Habit Journal and begin crossing off the days.

The classic look is to place an X next to each day. I prefer something more design-oriented so I shade in my cells on my habit tracker. You can also fill your habit tracker using checkmarks, or with dots.

Benefit #1: A habit tracker reminds us to act.

Habit tracking creates a set of visual cues. You’ll remember to act again when you see your streak on the calendar.

Research shows that people who keep track of their progress towards goals such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or lowering blood pressure are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. A study of over sixteen hundred people revealed that people who kept a daily food diary lost twice as much as those who didn’t. The habit tracker can be a simple tool to record your behavior and help you feel motivated to change.

You can also track your habits to keep you accountable. Many people believe they act better than they actually do. One way to see the truth is to measure your behavior. You’re less likely than others to lie to you when the evidence is in front of your face.

Benefit #2: A habit tracker motivates and inspires you to keep going.

Progress is the best form of motivation. Progress is the best form of motivation. It gives us a sense that we are making progress and makes us more determined to keep going. Habit tracking can be addictive and increase motivation. Each small win feeds your desire.

This can be especially powerful when you are having a bad day. It’s easy for people to forget all the achievements they have made when they are feeling low. You can see the results of your hard work by habit tracking, which is a subtle reminder of how far we’ve come. The empty square that you see every morning can be a motivator to get going. You don’t want your progress to stop by breaking your streak.

Benefit #3: A habit tracker gives you immediate satisfaction.

Tracking is a rewarding experience. It’s satisfying to check off an item on your to-do lists, to add a workout log entry, or to mark X on your calendar. It’s satisfying to see your results improve and it makes you more likely to persevere.

Habit tracking helps you keep your eyes on the ball. You’re more focused on the process than the end result. You don’t want to get six-pack abs. Instead, you want to maintain your streak and be the person who never misses a workout.

Ideas for Habit Tracker

These benefits sound wonderful, but you don’t have to keep track of every habit in your day. If you already have a habit in place, it doesn’t seem like much extra work to keep track of it. What should you track in your habit tracker to measure?

Habit tracking can be used to kickstart a new habit, or help you keep track of behaviors you forget or let slip when life gets busy.

Atomic Habits recommends the Two-Minute Rule. This is where you reduce your habitual time to make them easier. Although you can track any habits in your habit tracker you wish, I recommend that you start with the very small ones to ensure you are showing up at least a little each day. Below are some examples of daily, weekly and monthly habits.

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