I’m so excited to talk about another of my favorite steps in the goal-setting process today! I’ve already shown you how foundational habits are a great starting point when it comes to achieving your goals. But what can you do after starting those habits to ensure your own success? The answer lies in tracking your progress.
The idea of tracking yourself is really, really simple. All you have to do is keep track of whenever you complete a habit that you want to develop. That’s it!
This can be done daily, every other day, or even weekly. Whatever works for you! Tracking is seriously the easiest. It takes a minute or two at most, and it’s so incredibly valuable if you stick with it.
How Tracking Your Progress Works
What’s the point of tracking your actions, you might ask? Let me show you with an example.
When I was younger, I used to try to eat healthy all the time. “Try” being the operative word. I never really committed to it, and I definitely didn’t go on a diet or anything like that. It would just occur to me sometimes when I was having a meal that I should try to find healthier food options. No matter how many times I told myself I was going to start dieting or eating healthier, it never really stuck. Inevitably, I’d just end up forgetting about it until my next burst of goal-setting came around.
Then, a couple years ago, I decided that I was going to try to eat healthy again. This time, I still didn’t meal prep or commit to the goal very seriously. But I did pull out a little notebook and start recording what I ate for every meal. I would record fruits and veggies with a green pen, grains and dairy with a yellow pen, and sweets or other super unhealthy snacks with a red pen.
That was all it took. I found myself leaning more towards healthier foods naturally, because I didn’t want to see the red color on my food log at the end of the day. At the end of the month, I was able to look back and see how my days got greener and greener over time. And when I had a day where I indulged in a lot of unhealthy foods, I forgave myself and moved forward.
See, I hadn’t committed to cutting out my favorite foods, or only eating healthy. I had just committed to writing down what I was eating every day. And that simple act of tracking had a huge effect on me achieving my goal! It was really surprising, to be honest.
From that day forwards, I’ve always focused more on tracking my progress as the first step to personal growth. Even though it sounds like a tiny thing to do, it can make such an important difference when it comes to your mindset!
The Value of Tracking
Tracking is so valuable for two huge reasons. The first is the innate science behind it. Visually speaking, humans prefer some colors to others. We associate green with good and red with bad. So when we track things using colors, that subconsciously urges us to make more healthy and good choices during the day. Just use green or other “good” colors with your actions that you want to promote, and red or “bad” colors with your bad habits.
This works even if you don’t use colors! A lot of the time, I use a calendar as a habit tracker, listing all the days in a month and putting a checkbox next to a day once I’ve completed a certain habit in that day. In general, when people do this, they tend to like to keep their streaks going, instead of leaving a day unchecked. There’ve been plenty of days when I’ve forced myself to do something just so that I would have a checkmark in my calendar for that day.
In other words, tracking our progress can tap into parts of our subconsciousness and make it likelier for us to stick to a habit. It’s so wild how something so simple can have such an awesome affect on us! And it definitely makes tracking something that I want to recommend to all of my readers.
Additionally, tracking your progress gives you valuable data to look back on. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier every day, and you’re tracking your progress, you might be able to see at the end of the week that you never achieve your goal on Wednesdays – which happen to be the days that you tend to get a catered lunch at work. If you hadn’t been tracking your progress, you might not have made that connection!
Tracking your progress allows you to see how far you’ve come, and also helps you judge how well you’re doing. If you’re like me and you love your weekly reviews, going over your tracker progress from the week before can help you plan for the week ahead. It really gives you such great insight into yourself!
So, How Do I Start Tracking My Progress Today?
There are tons of ways to track your progress towards your goals. My biggest piece of advice is to choose something that already fits well into your routine! If you check your phone last thing before you go to bed, maybe track your progress in a note, or in a habit-tracking app. If you already use a desk calendar at work, you could have that double as your habit tracker too
My favorite way of tracking is using a traditional pen and paper. There’s something about checking off a box on a piece of paper that just feels so right! And it’s so easy for you to get yourself a tracker like this too.
One option is to make one yourself. Just get a piece of paper or a journal and list all the days in the month on the left side of the page. Then, across the top of the paper, list all the habits you want to track. At the end of each day, make a check in the row for that day under each habit that you complete. That’s all you need to do! For something more complicated like food journaling, you can layout your pages any way you want and make something totally customizable that works for you!
An even easier option is to find a tracker online that works for you and print it out! I personally love Alexx Hames’ trackers over at Aesthetics By Alexx. Check out her Habit Tracker Printable over here – if you like it, you can use my code WORKONTHAT10 to save 10% on it or any product in her store! (Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate with Alexx, so I’ll make some money if you use my discount code. I wouldn’t recommend a product if I didn’t love it and didn’t think it was reasonably priced. I promise that I’m being 100% legit when I say that you’ll love using any of Alexx’s products!)
To Sum It All Up…
I hope this post showed you how helpful tracking your progress can be when it comes to achieving your goals! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. What’s your favorite way to track your progress? What are habits you’re trying to develop that you think you could track in the future?