If you’re anything like me, then you’ve experienced dozens of false starts when it comes to creating a new habit. Your intentions are good, but you loose momentum or just plain forget to take action (hello distractions!).
Maybe, like me, you dutifully write down your intention on your to-do list, but it gets lost in the shuffle. Never getting crossed off, just moved ahead to the next day. And the next, and the next, and the next….ugh. It’s so demoralizing. It’s easy to lose faith in yourself. Or worse, you might tell yourself that you lack follow through, so why even bother.
If you’re tired of all these false starts when it comes to habit creation, there’s simple strategy that will help you maintain focus and stay motivated.
This is a strategy that works for any habit you want to create.
It’s a strategy that is used by successful people everywhere – authors, actors, artists, athletes and that’s just the a’s.
It’s also a strategy that’s backed by research. Even if weren’t, it wouldn’t matter because it works!
I’m talking about habit tracking and it’s addictive (in the enthusiastic, healthily hooked on loving it way).
Habit tracking is powerful because:
It creates a visual cue that can remind you to act.
It’s super satisfying to put that check mark in the box. It’s a way to provide yourself with some immediate gratification and that’s what we all crave, right?
It fuels your motivation, you’ll see your streak and you’ll want to keep it going (trust me, this is how I’ve kept going for 156 straight days with my language app, I will not break that streak – I’ve worked too hard to reach it!).
When it come to decluttering or organizing, you have dozens of choices for habit creation.
- You could choose to sort through one file folder a day.
- You could choose to let one item a day go.
- You could find a home for a stray item.
- You could spend two minutes culling email.
- You could take a daily micro step to organizing your finances.
- You could declutter one tiny area a day, like a drawer, a shelf, the medicine cabinet or your night stand.
There possibilities are practically endless. Seriously, you can use the habit tracker with any action you want to take consistently.
I use the habit tracker for everything under the sun. It’s how I Spring clean. I have a list of about five dozen ten minute tasks and I do one task a day. Between April and May I manage to deep clean my house without ever breaking a sweat or feeling overwhelmed. A line item on my habit tracker say ’10 minute Spring clean’.
Habit tracking is also how I make sure I exercise. It’s especially helpful now that we are living with Covid19 and our gym isn’t open. I exercise in 5 minute bursts, concentrating on one body part at a time. I have four habit tracker line items: arms, abs, legs and stretching. I spread out the five minute bursts, so it practically feels like no effort. Which is a win in my book!
I know myself well enough to know that I would resist having to use a whole twenty minute block to workout (there you have it, I want to stay in shape but I’m not keen too use too much time to make it happen.
I keep my habit tracker on my desk so I see it first thing in the morning, and throughout the day it’s there to remind me to act. It’s practically magic. I probably wouldn’t get half of what I want to do done if I didn’t have the visual cue. And seeing the streaks grow keeps me motivated. My competitive nature is fueled by it. Psst: Download your free habit tracker right here.
But I think the real power is that I am continually proving to myself that I can stick to something. That discovery alone is game changing for many people. I know it was for me. My inner dialogue has radically changed over the years. I used to feel that I was incapable of follow through, now I talk to myself as someone who is committed and capable of getting stuff done consistently.
Habit tracking is also particularly useful when it comes to reaching goals. After all, a goal is generally reached only through consistent action and I’ve yet to see a goal that didn’t require habitual action. In other words, our habits determine whether or not we succeed.
If you’re wondering how that works, I got a four step process to help you get started and I’ve a got free habit tracker for you to download:
1. Assess your goal.
What are trying to accomplish? What habitual actions will you need to take to reach it?
2. Choose a habit that will help you reach your goal.
Tip: When starting out, make it something you can act on in two minutes or less. A micro action will help eliminate any resistance, so you can start off strong.
For example, if your overarching goal is to write a book, then your micro action might be to write one or two sentences day. If your goal was to build cardio endurance, your micro action might be to do ten burpees (they’ll whip you into shape for sure!). If your goal was to create more intimacy with your partner, it might be expressing a few words of appreciation each morning before you start your day.
3. Commit to building the habit by taking action every day.
Yes, every day. This is a no excuse zone.
4. Track your progress.
Tip: Print the habit tracker and use it! You can grab it here – no sign up or anything, it will download as a PDF ready to print. You can also fill in it and then print it. The habit field is editable.
What will you commit to with the habit tracker? I’d love to hear, so don’t hesitate to create some extra accountability for yourself by using the comments section to share.