For many of us, there exists some level of discrepancy between our intentions and our everyday behaviours. How often have you promised yourself you would start something – a new project, perhaps – but ended up postponing it for weeks? Or vowed to practice something daily, when in reality you manage it once a week at best? One aspect of life that this tends to apply to is taking care of ourselves; looking after our own wellbeing. Think about all the new year’s resolutions that go unrealised each year, the unused gym memberships, the much-loved and yet neglected hobbies.
Perhaps you have recently taken the Wraw assessment and received your results. Or maybe you simply have a few ideas of ways that you think you could improve your wellbeing. You put together some goals and steps that you’d like to take to put these into action. Then what? How can you embed these desired behaviours into your day-to-day life, so that you can begin to reap the benefits?
There is a wealth of advice out there on how best to ingrain healthy habits, but one simple tool is often overlooked: habit tracking. A popular concept within the practice of ‘bullet journaling’, habit tracking requires nothing more than a pen and paper—and maybe some coloured pens if you have them. There are various habit tracking apps available, but doing it by hand is likely to have greater impact as it demands greater attention and uses more of your brain (plus, it removes the likelihood of ending up distracted by other things on your phone).
How To Create Your Habit Tracker
The premise is simple: you draw up a table with the days of the month along one edge, and the habits you want to track along the other. As each day passes, you mark off whichever habits you managed to complete that day. A quick internet search will bring up endless ideas of ways to design your habit tracker, both in terms of functionality and aesthetic appearance, but if you want to keep it simple, this works just as well. It’s up to you how creative you get with it. Or, if you really want to avoid creating your own, there are countless printable templates available.
What Can I Track?
Absolutely anything! From meditating in the mornings to packing healthy lunches, practising the piano to flossing your teeth – if it’s something you believe will influence your life for the better, it’s worth tracking. And it doesn’t need to be actions that you want to take every day; you might aim to do some weekly, or fortnightly – whatever feels most appropriate. It may be that you start off this way and then, month by month, aim to increase the frequency until the habit in question has become a daily ritual. If you need some inspiration, this article contains some helpful habit suggestions.
At the end of the month, you will have a visual representation of how much you have been acting in accordance with your intentions. This is a time to look back and reflect and to renew your focus for the following month. You might even be able to identify patterns in your practices that can provide guidance – particular times when you struggled to maintain a certain habit, for example. This part is crucial; if you don’t take the time to look back at your completed tracker for the month, the exercise really loses its impact.
The key here is not being too hard on yourself; the purpose is not to fixate on what you didn’t manage to do. Notice what went well, above all else. If a habit does not seem to be working out, avoid the temptation to just ‘try harder’ the next month. Instead, think about how you could do it differently. It may be as straightforward as picking a different time of day or setting yourself reminders.
One final piece of advice is not to focus on too many new habits at once. Picking one or two to focus on each month is much more likely to be manageable and effective than trying to introduce several at once.
Habit Tracking And The Workplace
There are various ways to bring the practice of habit tracking into the workplace. At an individual level, employees could be encouraged to share with colleagues things that are important to their habit goals – for example, needing to leave the office right on time every Wednesday as it allows them to fit in one of their weekly habits. The whole exercise could also be applied at a team level, by supporting the team to agree on workplace habits that can benefit them all – going for a walk one lunchtime a week, for example.
So get habit tracking now and look forward to indulging yourself at the end of the month in the comfort of knowing that you’ve accomplished a lot more than you probably would have given yourself credit for!