You become what you do daily.
And you know that a life of Netflix and Cheetos isn’t really producing the results you want.
Okay, so maybe it isn’t actually Netflix and Cheetos dire.
Maybe it’s just that you don’t work out as much as you’d like, or you eat out more than your budget is comfortable with, or you’re just tired of being stressed out, and wonder what would happen if you tried meditating daily.
No matter which habits you want to improve in your life, your journal can support you in achieving them.
While Instagram and Pinterest are full of gorgeous habit trackers that take hours (and possibly an art degree) to create, if you want to spend more time on the habits than tracking them, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s get started:
1. Start with the emotional hook.
Did the chart in elementary school with the gold stars (or color grid, or insert _______________ here) make you happy or did it stress you out? Do you tend to feel more inspired with linear graphs and perfectly symmetrical lines, or do shapes and pictures suit you better?
It isn’t the design of the tracker that matters. It’s how it makes you feel when you use it. If it makes you feel inspired and encouraged, it will fuel you, but if it feels difficult or frustrating… Well, that works against you.
This is the reason so many people add art, inspirational quotes, and color to their habit trackers. It evokes emotion when they use it. But if that stuff makes you crazy, acknowledge, and roll with it.
What motivates one person can decelerate another. The key is figuring out how your brain wants to see this.
What does this look like?
Well, if you are tracking water consumption, it might be the difference between writing the number of ounces you drink each hour, or drawing a glass and coloring in different levels with a blue highlighter to represent another glass.
2. Questions to ask yourself to help the design
The process goes much faster if you figure out what you are tracking before you start designing a layout. Here are questions to ask yourself:
- Are you tracking one habit or many?
- Do you need to track by date or is a tally of how many times you do something sufficient?
- Do you need to track duration (how long you do something each day)?
- Is it more helpful to track annually, monthly, weekly, or daily? (For example, tracking books you read might make more sense annually, tracking exercise could be weekly, while tracking time in meditation might make more sense daily.)
- How can I make this easy to use? Changing habits takes some effort, so make the tracking of them as easy as possible.
3. Make the page tactile so it’s easy to find.
Don’t waste one second flipping through pages to find your habit tracker. Add a tactile element so you don’t have to think about it.
If your journal has two ribbon bookmarks, you can use one for the habits page. Or you can:
- Put a strip of washi tape down the outside edge.
- Add a good old post-it tab.
- Use a thick sticker on the page to give it more depth than the surrounding pages. (If you do this, make it inspirational.)
- Tape a penny to the page.
- Dog-ear the page.
The idea is to grab your journal. Flip it open. Make some marks. And get back to your life.
4. Need some ideas? Check out what others have done.
Of course, you already know that the point isn’t the tracker. It’s the habits.
The best part about using our journals for habit tracking is that it creates a visual picture of what we are doing. Daily visual evidence of our own progress is motivating.
(And seeing where we are missing it, creates an honesty that prevents us from overestimating our investment. )
Imagine what just a few months of tracking could do for building the habits that shape who you become.
And the best part? No more orange fingerprints on the couch.