A Beginner’s Guide To Habit Tracking

This year, I read a pretty insightful and comprehensive book about a topic I am highly passionate about – HABITS. This book, Atomic Habits by James Clear has been written with the underlying principle that tiny changes can result in remarkable results.
This is the second blog post on The Soulful Nib about habits. Read the previous post here Baby Steps, Giant Changes.
There have been so many stories about über successful personalities who resorted to the simple technique of consistency to achieve all that they wished to. Consistency is the key to success. This has been the tried-and-tested mantra, which seldom fails.
Despite that, it is human nature to procrastinate. We are master procrastinators and always think that “there is tomorrow.”
There is this lovely Doha by Saint Kabir which is very apt for this subject matter:
“Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ab, Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kab”
This translates to:
“Finish tomorrow’s work today, and today’s work right now. If the world were to end in the next moment, when would you finish them?”
Such a wise thought!
To achieve our goals (think 10-15 years ahead), we need to get started on them right now. And to do that, we need to break down our goals into tiny, achievable parts which can be done daily, or weekly. The point here is that we keep at it steadily, but surely. The otherwise impossible-looking goal would soon see the light of the day!
So, how can we go about this? One word. Actually, two words. HABIT TRACKING.
The book Atomic Habits speaks in length about how we can measure our progress by a technique called habit tracking. I have personally tried this. The results have been astounding, to say the least. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the results showing.
Your curiosity might be at its peak. What is this habit tracking all about?
You start off with choosing any format you are comfortable with (on paper or digitally). There are tons of apps available dedicated to habit tracking like Habit Bull or Loop.
Being an old school girl, I preferred tracking using pen and paper.
You choose a certain number of habits you want to track regularly. The lesser, the better, initially. Keep it to a minimum of 3-4 habits at the beginning. Being over-ambitious will lead to procrastination and disappointment. Keep in mind that these habits should be simple ones. For example, say you want to read more. Do not write “read 50 pages a day” when you know for sure, that it is not possible (owing to other commitments). Rather write down something much more achievable like “read 5 pages a day” and stick to it.
These habits need not be tracked daily. They can be tracked, say, once a week, or on alternate days. Anything that fits your bill. Remember that this is YOUR habit tracker and you decide how to use it.
Trust me when I say this. The sense of satisfaction as you cross off or tick off the habit you managed to follow each day, is inexplicable. More than that, when you sit by your desk and see how much you have progressed at the end of the month, you will find it hard to wipe that smile off your face!
Habit tracking is rewarding. It is addictive once you get accustomed to it. You learn to celebrate small victories. Before you know it, all those “may be” goals become “have done” accomplishments. 🙂
Habit tracking can be beneficial to get rid of bad habits too. So if you have a habit of drinking a lot of coffee or eating sugary foods on a daily basis, add “no more than a cup of coffee” or “no sugary foods” on your habit tracker.
Design your habit tracker in a way that makes you feel excited to use it each day. Do not try to copy what the others say. Do what suits your needs the best, but make sure to follow it!
Habit tracking does not end after certain days. It is a lifestyle-based choice. A lifelong commitment to doing all that is good for you. So do not believe those myths such as “it takes 21/35/66 days to build a habit.”
Each person is different. It is always wise to track your habits regularly and for long until it becomes like a second skin to you. Your day feels incomplete if you do not do that habit. That’s when you can agree that the habit has taken a permanent place in your life!
Until next time, stay blessed!
Image: My Journal 🙂

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