This article is part of a series of articles which the goals are to help you be more successful in your personal challenges. These tips come from my personal experience as well as from the feedback from participants of Challengers (30 day challenges).
Challenges stated in this article can be of many sorts, but in any case are targeting long lasting challenges (i.e. habit creation or new skill learning) which require daily action or near daily action.
Tip 3: Keep track
When learning to do something new, it is easy to lose sight of where we are going and where we are coming from. We just keep on putting the effort, but wonder if the effort is worth the result. Usually, it is worth. But without a way to remember or to compare the since when we started, we have no way of being sure.
Keeping track of your progress allows seeing this journey we are in, with its ups and lows. But of for most journeys, you learn along the way. “Remember where you come from” they say, and this could very well apply to our challenges as well. Your tracking is your onboard journal.
You can make your tracking as simple (simple daily Y/N) or as complex (write in a diary the details of what you did and how you feel) as you like, the importance is to have one. There are many ways you can keep track. We’ll go through a few ones, but feel free to adapt it to your needs and challenge.
Let’s start with the simplest one, the calendar. It can be a paper or digital calendar, the idea remains the same: make a big red X each day you have done your challenge. You can also go a bit farther by putting a number as well, such as the kilometers you’ve run, number of push-ups, or the number of pages read of a book.
Today we find app’s for everything, and yes, there are some for habit tracking as well. In fact there are dozens of them, so you’ll need to go through a few ones to find which one suits you the best. I personally use HabitLoop as I like its simplicity and it’s respect for privacy (it doesn’t look on your phone or connect to the internet), but that’s just me.
Last one we will discuss is using an excel sheet for tracking. The big advantage here is the flexibility of it. The idea is to have one day per row, and use the columns to organize the outcome of your challenge. For example, you can have one column for counting your push-ups, one column to comment on how you feel (tired, sour muscles …), you could even have a column to track your diet and see how it impacts your progress…
These are a few ideas you can play with, the importance is that you are comfortable with your tracking, that it’s not an extra burden. If it is complicated to access and fill up, most likely you will pass on it. So if you are using a paper calendar, keep a pen next to it. If you use an app, put a shortcut on your main screen.
With a simple tracking system, you will be able to have a clearer view of what you are doing, how much you have progressed, and where you are going.
Next tip tomorrow: Vary the difficulty.