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’s worth it. But without a way to remember or to compare with when since when we started, we have no way of being sure. That’s why keeping track is so important.
Keeping track of your progress allows seeing this journey we are in, with its ups and downs. But for most journeys, you generally 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 like your onboard journal.
What to track
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 challenges.
Once you started with a tracking system for a challenge, it is better to stick to until the end of your challenge. But if you find that it doesn’t fit with what you actually want, don’t be afraid to change and experiment different tracking system to find one that fits your needs.
Tracking system examples
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, the number of push-ups or the number of pages read of a book.
Today we find apps 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 its respect for privacy (it doesn’t look on your phone or connect to the internet), but you’ll find many others with various designs. Try out a few ones and keep one you are comfortable with.
The 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 row per day, 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… This can also be used if you are doing multiple challenges and assigning one column for each challenge.
These are a many 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. 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.