2020 Q4 Habit Tracker Free Printable:
How to keep your habits on track
A habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit. Countless people have tracked their habits, but perhaps the most famous was Benjamin Franklin. Beginning at age twenty, Franklin carried a small booklet everywhere he went and used it to track thirteen personal virtues. This list included goals like "Lose no time, Be always employed in something useful" and "Avoid trifling conversation." At the end of each day, Franklin would open his booklet and record his progress.
Jerry Seinfeld reportedly uses a habit tracker to stick with his streak of writing jokes. In the documentary Comedian, he explains that his goal is simply to "never break the chain" of writing jokes every day. In other words, he is not focused on how good or bad a joke is. He is simply focused on showing up and adding to his streak.
"Don't break the chain" is a powerful mantra. Don't break the chain of sales calls and you'll build a successful book of business. Don't break the chain of workouts and you'll get fit faster than you'd expect. Don't break the chain of creating every day and you will end up with an impressive portfolio. Habit tracking is powerful because it leverages multiple Laws of Behavior Change. It simultaneously makes a behavior obvious, attractive, and satisfying.
Benefit #1: Habit tracking is obvious.
Recording your last action creates a trigger that can initiate your next one. Habit tracking naturally builds a series of visual cues like the streak of X's on your calendar or the list of meals in your food log. When you look at the calendar and see your streak, you'll be reminded to act again. Research has shown that people who track their progress on goals like losing weight, quitting smoking, and lowering blood pressure are all more likely to improve than those who don't. One study of more than sixteen hundred people found that those who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who did not. The mere act of tracking a behavior can spark the urge to change it.
Habit tracking also keeps you honest. 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. When the evidence is right in front of you, you're less likely to lie to yourself.
Benefit #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 of motivation. Each small win feeds your desire.
This can be particularly powerful on a bad day. When you're feeling down, it's easy to forget about all the progress you have already made. Habit tracking provides visual proof of your hard work - a subtle reminder of you far you've come. Plus, the empty square you see each morning can motivate you to get started because you don't want to lose your progress by breaking the streak.
Benefit #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. It feels good to watch your results grow - the size of your investment portfolio, the length of your book manuscript - and if it feels good, then you're more likely to endure.
Habit tracking also helps you keep your eye on the ball: you're focused on the process rather than the result. You're not fixated on getting six-pack abs, you're just trying to keep the streak alive and become the type of person who doesn't miss workouts.