Listen. If anyone knows a thing or two about habit trackers it’s me. Not because I’m super disciplined, but because I’m not. I’ve tried all the trackers.
At the end of 2021, I read Atomic Habits by James Clear and quickly realized why it’s spent over 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It’s incredible!
One thing James mentions in the book is the importance of tracking your habits, and since we just got done talking about spiritual disciplines I figured this would be a good follow-up topic.
Here are the three reasons James Clear says tracking your habits is important. If after reading them you decide a habit tracker is in your future, then you’re in luck. We have four free PDFs linked at the end of the blog!
1: Habit Tracking is Obvious
Most of us have a distorted view of our own behavior. We think we act better than we do. Measurement offers one way to overcome our blindness to our own behavior and notice what’s really going on each day.Clear, p. 197
This has been really helpful for me because I definitely think I’m better than I actually am. Having a habit tracker hanging in my room has helped me see that I don’t read my Bible nearly as much as I think, and it’s caused me to reassess my routine.
Now, at the end of the day instead of choosing between reading the Bible for myself or reading a random book to my kids I kill two birds with one stone. We read the Bible together and then… I go check it off on my habit tracker.
2: Habit Tracking is Attractive
The most effective form of motivation is progress. When we get a signal that we are moving forward, we become more motivated to continue down that path. In this way, habit tracking can have an addictive effect on motivation. Each small win feeds your desire.Clear, p. 198
Real talk: I only partially agree with this. I tend to be an all or nothing person. If I start tracking a habit, and I complete said habit, I’m motivated to complete it the following day. However, if I miss a day… “Throw out the habit tracker! I’ve ruined everything!”
If you’re like me here’s something I’ve found helpful. Track in smaller time intervals. Instead of setting a goal to complete some habit everyday for a year set a goal of doing said thing a certain amount of times just this month. That allows some grace. You’ll be expecting to skip some days, so those missing checks won’t be so demoralizing.
3: Habit Tracking is Satisfying
This is the most crucial benefit of all. Tracking can become its own form of reward. It is satisfying to cross an item off your to-do list, to complete an entry in your workout log, or to mark an X on the calendar.Clear, p. 198
Piggy-backing off my last point. If you find a system of tracking your habits that works for you then I absolutely agree with this. In 2021 I read through the entire Bible. It was the first time in over a decade of being a Christian that I was finally able to complete that goal, and it WAS very satisfying.
All the failed attempts before that. Not at all satisfying.
If you’ve tried habit tracking in the past and it hasn’t worked out I would encourage you to try again. When you find that perfect tracking method it’ll become a bit of an addiction.
Is there something you know you need to start doing more consistently? It could be getting the dishes done before bed or reading your Bible daily. Whether it’s a chore or a spiritual disciple, I created four different Habit Trackers you can start using today!
Because there’s a better way,
Year-Long Single Habit Tracker
Month-Long Four Habit Tracker
Week-Long Multiple Habit Tracker
Month-Long Weekly Combo Habit Tracker
Feel free to download them all and make them your own. Then let me know what you’ll be tracking so I can cheer you on!
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