This article’s key take-aways:
Most people overlook tracking their progress and miss a vital step in motivation and growth. Because we’re creatures of habit, turning progress tracking into a routine can be a challenge. Without a progress tracking routine, positive results are underappreciated and negative results are unexplained.
This article shows you what to track, when to track and how…
A closer look at successful Progress Tracking
Tracking progress helps you keep score. It enables you to see what you do that moves you towards a goal and what you do that thwarts it. Creating a simple habit of tracking your goals and creating simple habits that support your goals will ensure you achieve your goal… sooner or later.
One of the biggest challenges for people who build habits into their lifestyle is falling out of the habits before they become second-nature. It takes a while for repeated behaviour to form into a habit and in that time, constantly engaging in that repeated behaviour is what makes it become natural. Humans are creatures of habit. In fact, 40% of our behaviour is habitual. And, in the time it takes for a new, healthy habit to form, our brains are doing their very best to keep our older, detrimental habits in place.
According to Jeremy Dean, in his book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits”, it can take between 20 and 80 days for a simple habit to form. The numbers vary from person to person and the more trying a habit for the individual, the longer it can take for the habit to form. And, all the while, the brain is attempting to reassert the old behaviour through the automatic sliding back-door of the brain: autopilot-mode.
Some would argue that the very nature of the human brain makes it difficult to form new habits. True as that may be, this can work to our advantage once these new habits are in place. So then, the question becomes, what can you do form new and healthy habits that support your well-being? And, how can you win out over autopilot mode and get your brain on your side?
The answer is simple: Effective Progress Tracking
Effective Progress Tracking comes down to deliberate, conscious choices to make the experience of achieving your goals both as rewarding and as pleasurable as possible. And in this article, we’re going to cover the three ways to beat autopilot-mode with effective progress tracking.
- What to track – Getting what you’re tracking right for you is intrinsic to keeping your routine compelling. And just taking a note of the fact that you’ve achieved a certain goal might not be enough to break through plateau periods and keep moving forward at a consistent rate. Some find it useful to track food intake – if you have a personal trainer, a great way to hold yourself accountable for your intake can be sending them photos of everything you eat. Others prefer body measurements to body weight. For your cardio, monitoring increased speed can be a good way to track your progress. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is keep a track of as much as possible. The more you track, the more information you have on what caused any unwanted results along the way. If you gain weight one week but weren’t tracking your intake, you might not have noticed the effect that that out-of-diet food had on your body. The more you track, the clearer you can be on your results and making the best of your routine.Keep an eye out for signs of a plateau too. If you’re making exponential progress for weeks and things begin to slow, this could be a sign that you’re starting to plateau. If this happens, it’s time to change things up or crank up the intensity up a bit. Other signs of an impending plateau might be increased tiredness and a lack of motivation.
- How to track – Ensure your goals have smaller, incremental achievements along the way that remind you you’re moving forward. In this way you’ll see progress happening in real time, not just once at the end when the goal is achieved. For example, if you have a weight loss goal of 7lbs, you can divide that goal into manageable chunks and take note as you pass each milestone on the approach to your end goal.
- When to track – Establish a progress tracking rhythm. Set times to check in on your progress and stick to them. Use alarms or triggers in your day-to-day life to reinforce them. Make the rhythm of tracking into a routine in and of itself. It might be that you track your progress before or after each session you’re moving towards your goal. With working out, for example, you might choose to track your progress before or after. You may find that progress tracking before encourages you to work out harder. For some that may be just the ticket, while others might not respond so well to it. The same is true for tracking your progress after the workout. You may find it works better for you to set a daily progress tracking time and take note of your progress at a specific time each day. This will take some experimenting and, ultimately, what matters is what is right for you. All-in-all, the intention here is to encourage a positive progress tracking experience that bolsters your well-being and propels you towards your goals.
Questly is a great way to track your progress. It offers you a way to track your health across 10 health factors every month – you can take the test in under 60 seconds and track your progress month-to-month. There is also a specific quest within Questly specifically on tracking. This includes templates you can download and use.
Here’s a video that shows different ways to track your progress:
What Comes Next
Commonly, in western culture, rewards lean towards the unhealthy or the problematic. So often, we go out to dinner or for drinks to celebrate. This can work as part of your progress tracking, so long as the dinner and drinks don’t interfere with your progress. But what is missing from such large and infrequent rewards is that the nature of the reward does not pertain to the well-being goal we are progressing towards. For example, if our goal is to lose weight, going out to eat is counterproductive. So getting the reward right is key. In this way, we enforce our progress towards our goals while affording ourselves the joy and pleasure of a pleasant experience intended to bolster your well-being.
Another huge part of selecting the appropriate rewards for your goals is making the most of the rewards. Mindfulness of the warmth of a rewarding shower after a strenuous workout or the gentle birdsong of the evening as we sit outside after a day of determination in front of the computer screen. By absorbing all we can from these rewarding experiences, we thank ourselves and our bodies for their work towards our greater well-being. And we replenish our spirit and fill ourselves up for the progress of the next day.
Having read this article what will you do next?
We urge you to take at least one action from reading this article, so you can go from interested into action.