“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” ~Peter Drucker
By: Martin Grunburg
While almost everyone understands the benefits of habit tracking, most people aren’t really sure HOW to properly track their habits — and, better yet, which habits they ought to track. The feedback I often hear from people about habit tracking is something like this: “I know I should, but, it’s kind of a pain,” and then there is some mumbling “there’s so many things I need to be doing, blah . . . mumble . . . blah.”
The end result? No tracking, but, “Hey, it sounds like good idea!”
If this sounds like you, I say we start with a little attitude adjustment!
Let’s begin with Jim Rohn’s brilliant observation, “There are two great pains, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret!”
Which do you think will be more painful and hurt longer? Tracking your habits or NOT achieving your goals?
So, now that we’re on the same page, it’s worth reiterating that habit tracking can and should be SUPER FUN when done properly. In fact, the reason there are probably almost 100 different habit-tracking apps today is that there is a great amount of self-efficacy within the process, and believe it or not, that makes it fun!
It’s even MORE fun when you have a PLAN, know what you are doing and follow a proven method. Having said that, this is the post I probably should have written back in June of 2009 when The Habit Factor® was first introduced as the original habits and goals tracker. Even today, it’s the only one that features Habit Alignment Technology™ allowing you to align your habits to your goals. Yay!
Knowing that you will feel great following this process is just another reason to begin. You do want to feel great, right?
Perfect! Then let’s get started!
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ~Mark Twain
Here are the 10 super-simple keys to making Habit Tracking uber-fun, easy and ridiculously effective!
- Identify the Habit you want to create. Then write out at least 10 reasons (WHYs) you want to develop this habit. If the habit were “jogging,” you might write: live longer, live better, be healthier and more vibrant, look better, etc. The reasons simply help to fortify your commitment!
- Do not confuse the “Goal” with the related “Habit.” For instance, while the “goal” might be to “write a book,” one of the supportive HABITS would be to “write.” If the goal were to “lose weight,” the supportive habit might be “jogging” or “drinking water.” Only The Habit Factor® (app) allows you to create an over-arching goal and then align the supportive habits. You can certainly just track a habit without an over-arching goal, but often people recognize the reason they want to develop the habit is for the attainment of an important goal!
- Identify the behavior’s relative “HabitStrength.” Think of the habit you want to create and ask yourself how strong is the habit TODAY. Use a scale of 1 – 8; an “8” would mean the habit is fully automatic and requires little to no conscious thought. Chances are the behavior/habit you’ll be tracking and want to create is likely to begin with a HabitStrength of just 1 or a 2 or maybe a 3.
- Set the bar low! Habit development can take months, but when you follow this fun process it doesn’t matter how long it takes — you’re going to be around anyway, right? So the real key to success in habit development is setting the bar very low to gain early momentum. So, if the habit you want to develop is “reading,” and you don’t read much or at all, set the bar LOW with the target of “reading for 15 minutes” and maybe just TWO days a week. This is called the Minimum Success Criteria (MSC), and it’s designed specifically for tracking. By doing this your tracking becomes . . .
- Binary: You either did it — met the minimum success criteria (MSC) — or you didn’t. The simplicity of binary can’t be overstated. For instance, if you didn’t “read for 15 minutes,” but rather just 10 minutes, then your score is a “0” instead of a “1.” If you read for “25 minutes,” then it’s a “1.” The key is to use either a “1” or a “0.” You don’t get half points or more than 1 point on any given day. Just hit your MSC!
- Do not confuse the “Goal” with a “Target.” Your TARGET is to “read for 15 minutes 3 times a week.” That is not your goal. Your goal is to “write a book.” Using the terminology properly will help you with the process and your goal!
- Schedule fewer target days at first. Don’t panic if you miss one. Also, don’t panic if you’re NOT sure about your best target days at first. This is a common concern: “I’m not sure what days I can do this!” The point of the target day is to identify your weekly rhythm or pattern — the frequency per week. So, going back to the “Reading” habit example, you simply identify your best guess; target days within the week knowing what your current schedule looks like. You might recognize that Mondays and Saturdays (because of current obligations) won’t be good target days, so you select Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Just three days a week to “Read for 15 minutes.” The beauty here is that if you miss Wednesday, you could use Thursday or Saturday as a make-up day and still hit your Target of 3x for the week!
- ACT! Perform the behavior as intended! Now that all your PLANNING is done, it’s time to ACT! BTW: Watch this video: Follow the P.A.R.R Methodology if you want to see the above in action.
- Record: This means Tracking + Notes. Be sure to take notes each day you track; this helps to reaffirm your intentions!
- Reassess: After you have tracked for a period of 4 weeks, it’s time to raise the bar. Perhaps you up the frequency to 4x per week and read for 25 minutes instead of just 15. This is how you increase the HabitStrength over time.
Here’s an example/sample worksheet you can download. This is the easiest way to develop and increase your HabitStrength for any particular habit over time!
Click Here to Access the FREE PDF: Habit Tracking 101: Simple, Easy and Fun Habit Tracking
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(This post has been updated 5.15/2018)