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In Praise of Habit Trackers

notebook habit trackers

Quick wins are rarely the elements of a long-term strategy.

If you search for quick wins, you’ll find them. But they won’t add up to anything substantial over time.

Instead, focus on being consistent with smaller actions you can stick with over a long period of time. Here’s why…

The two types of goals (and how they overlap)

There are two types of goals:

  1. Attainment Goals
  2. Lifestyle Goals

Attainment Goals are something we accomplish. Running our first marathon. Losing 10 pounds. Paying off student loans. Reaching 1,000 newsletter subscribers. There is a clear definition of done and you know when you have attained that goal.

Lifestyle Goals are something we “install” into our everyday life. Such as a daily reading routine, a workout routine, a writing habit, a financial budget. A Lifestyle Goal is a desired outcome we have for what we want our day-to-day life to be like.

On a practical note, these two types of goals go hand in hand.

For example, suppose you want to run a marathon. Naturally, you will need a daily routine of eating and exercise in order to have the strength and stamina for race day.

Moreover, while the marathon itself is a mountaintop type of experience — something exciting and memorable. The race day itself is not a life-changing event. Rather, you will be changed through the lifestyle goal that was required to get you there — the biggest impact on your life will not be the marathon itself, but rather the months of preparation leading up to the race.

Results come from consistency over time

The small actions of our Lifestyle Goals only add up if they are done consistently over time.

Any singular, small action that is done once will not produce any meaningful results in your life. This is true for good actions as well as bad actions. Such as:

  • Walking for 30 minutes
  • Writing 500 words
  • Smoking a cigarette
  • Skipping dessert

Any of the above actions, if done once, will not add up to much in the long term. Smoking one cigarette will not be detrimental to your health. Skipping dessert will not impact your weight. Writing 500 words is not much toward a manuscript or a year’s worth of weekly newsletters.

However, if you were to take any of those actions and repeat them consistently for a year…. you would see substantial and noticeable results.

Writing 500 words per day adds up to more than 175,000 words — that’s a couple of books.

Walking 30 minutes per day adds up to about 700 miles in a year.

We do not decide our futures, we decide our habits. And our habits decide our futures. — F.M. Alexander

Choose a Habit to Change Your Life

Whatever your goal is, pick a small daily action that you believe will move you toward that goal. And then, do that small action consistently in order to produce the results you are wanting.

This is a very simple strategy. And it works.

But, if you have ever tried to implement a new habit then you know that, while it may be simple it is not always easy.

And so, the question arises:

How do you maintain consistency and motivation to show up every day for those small actions that compound over time?

🚀 Upgrade: Boost Your Habits

Introducing the new Focus Boosters.

Inside our popular community membership, join us for a the Habit Building challenge (a.k.a. “Booster”). You’ll find out how to make simple changes that will make your daily life better, remove distractions, and create a new simple habit.

Membership Includes: Simple Habits Course, Habit Tracking Templates, Digital Planner, Private Community Slack, 2x Monthly Coaching Calls, and much, much more…

Let’s Go! »

Three Significant Benefits of Habit Trackers

One of my personal favorite methods for getting new habits to stick and old habits to keep going is through the use of a habit tracker.

There are all sorts of habit trackers available — from apps to notebooks to wall calendars. I’ll list a few of my favorite habit trackers at the end. But first, let’s briefly look at the 3 main benefits of using a habit tracker.

1: Habit Trackers keep you focused on your winning strategy

As is often the case, once you begin focusing on a new habit, or doubling-down on an old one, you will have many new ideas for something different you could be doing instead.

Your habit tracker will help remind you of the critical actions you are committed to doing each day. This will help you to stay consistent on the winning strategy instead of getting distracted by new ideas, quick wins, or other distractions.

2: A Habit Tracker helps you to keep showing up

In order to get the results from your small, daily actions you need to actually do them. It’s not enough to want to write 500 words per day, you actually need to do it.

Like I shared earlier, a small action done once doesn’t add up to much. You have to keep showing up every day. By using a habit tracker you are able to stay focused on the one or two daily habits you are building so you can continue to show up and repeat them consistently.

3: A Habit Tracker helps you recognize and celebrate your progress

The very nature of doing small things exactly that: they are small. And, as such, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and to stay motivated.

This is why it’s important to recognize and celebrate the small, daily wins of our life.

Research shows that our motivation increases when we see that we are making progress on meaningful work. This recognition of progress boosts our overall mood and thus leads to an increase in productivity and creativity.

Even a simple habit tracker can help you to catalog and celebrat your small wins each day so that you can be reminded you are making meaningful progress.


A Few of our Favorite Habit Trackers

We have tried, tested, and used many habit trackers over the years. We even designed our own and put it inside our Focused Life Digital Planner. Here are a few of our favorites.

Habit Tracking Apps
The best habit tracking app for your iPhone is Streaks. It offers everything you need to create good habits or break bad ones, features a great design that is very customizable, has some useful widgets, integrates directly with the Apple Health app for automatic tracking, and offers great support for Shortcuts.

Focus Course Digital Planner
Our popular digital planner has 12 monthly spreads for you to celebrate your daily progress and track your daily habits.

Day One
If you want to build a journaling habit, I’m a huge fan of Day One (and have been using it for nearly a decade). While Day One isn’t a traditional habit tracker, you can use it track your habits by either using a journal template and/or by simply writing down what you did each day.

If you already use Day One, then this could be great for you if you also want to keep things all in one spot. Or, if you’re specifically looking to build a journaling habit this year then Day One is an ideal spot to start.

Notion
There are hundreds of habit tracking templates out there for Notion.

We just designed and developed our own Notion Habit Tracker (based on the best of the best) and we’ll be publishing it for free to everyone inside the Accelerator Membership.

Notebooks
For me personally, I track my daily habits inside of a standard-issue Baron Fig notebook. I map out my own “one line per day” method with a daily highlight and a few check boxes for the habits I am currently tracking.

If you’re looking for even more suggestions on ways to track your habits and routines, here’s another roundup.


🚀 Upgrade: Boost Your Habits

Introducing the new Focus Boosters.

Inside our popular community membership, join us for a the Habit Building challenge (a.k.a. “Booster”). You’ll find out how to make simple changes that will make your daily life better, remove distractions, and create a new simple habit.

Membership Includes: Simple Habits Course, Habit Tracking Templates, Digital Planner, Private Community Slack, 2x Monthly Coaching Calls, and much, much more…

Let’s Go! »