How to Know Which Habits are Worth Tracking
In this series around Forming Healthful Habits, we focus on why, when, and how to create new habits for a higher quality of life. In today's article, we tackle How to Know Which Habits are Worth Tracking.
Creating new habits is an empowering, sometimes frustrating, potentially life-changing process. We choose that word carefully - “process!” Because a new habit is not something we work at for a few months and then never think about again. While our undesirable habits can easily go unnoticed, not too many desirable habits really go on autopilot - that’s just not the way the world works. We have to practice maintaining healthful habits.
We don’t often use the word, “journey,” as in “your health journey,” or, “your weight-loss journey,” because it implies that you will arrive somewhere at some point. With good habits and good habit-tracking, you will reach your goals! But maintaining good health, whatever that means for you, isn’t a destination to be reached - it is a process to be lived and practiced and repeated and sustained.
This is a continuous process toward progress, not perfection.
Get to Know Your Future Self
The questions you are asking yourself in this stage of the process...
What kind of person do I want to be?
Who will I be a year (or five years, or month, etc.) from now?
How does my best, highest self act, look, and live?
How do I identify myself and relate to the world around me in the future?
Invest time envisioning your future self. Earnestly think about, journal about, or discuss these questions and others like them. Because the person you want to be defines the rest of the process.
TIP: This list is probably mostly adjectives - descriptive words. Try not to include action words and nouns here. Just describe your future self.
Get to Know Their Values
After you have a clear idea of the person you want to be, the next questions to ask yourself are...
What are this person's values?
What are their priorities?
What does this person consider important?
What are the non-negotiables for my future self?
Again, invest time to really think about, journal about, or discuss these questions and others like them. Once you know what is important to the person you want to be, the next step is easier.
Also, order this list by priority! Place the highest priority at the top of the list and work down. This is the most difficult part for me, but crucial to managing your workload later. (Remember mistake no. 1 from, Avoid These Mistakes When Creating a New Habit ?!)
TIP: This list is probably mostly nouns - object words. Describe what the values are, not how to get there.
Get to Know Their Habits
One more bit of self-inquiry: ask yourself...
What are the habits of someone who exemplifies those values?
What routines do they perform each day? Week? Month?
How does their day run?
What systems does this person have in place?
What does their environment look and feel like?
What are the actionable steps you can take to get your future self more in line with your highest values. Be sure not to fall into the trap of mistake no. 5 from Avoid These Mistakes When Creating a New Habit !
TIP: This list is probably mostly verbs - action words. Now is the time to list actionable steps.
Now you might have a chart that looks something like this.
Of course, you don't need to limit yourself to 3 values and 3 habits per value (it just makes a nice flow chart and is easy to create in canva.) But, again, remember the advice from our last article: keep it simple and keep it focused.
Get to Know Your Tool
This is where your habit tracker becomes a very valuable tool. Some people may have the gift of setting values, creating habits, keeping mental notes, and sustaining change over time. I am not those people. I use a habit tracker.
Actually, over the last two years, I have used several different habit trackers depending on the kind of, number of, and frequency of the habits I was creating. There is not a perfect system, so it is worth some investigating and experimenting to find the right system for you and your habits.
We have included 5 different Habit Trackers + a Meal Planner in our Healthful Habits Bundle, along with an Inspiration Guide and Printable Quote Cards, to support you in your habit creating process.
Focus on the habits that will make the changes that align with the values and priorities of your best, highest, future self.
Get to Know Your Limits
You may notice that not all 130+ habits on our inspiration guide make it onto your flow chart. You will see a habit trending (Marie Kondo, anyone?), and ALLLL of your fav influencers focused on a big change, and wonder, "Should I be doing that, too?"
I may sound like a broken record, but, again, Remember mistake no. 1! You don't have to...shouldn't...can't tackle everything all at once. That is a recipe for frustration and disappointment. Focus on the habits that will make the changes that align with the values and priorities of your best, highest, future self. In short, You do You.
Here's the Habits Flow Chart I am currently working with.
There are some things that I would like to be on this list, like writing articles, spending time with my friends, parents, and grandparents. But at this exact point in my life, these are my priorities and the habits that are steering me toward the future self I have in mind. So, these are the habits worth tracking.
Now you know which habits are worth tracking. So, the next step in your habit-creating process is to add your habits, in priority order, to your habit tracker, and start tracking them. You find that you need to periodically re-evaluate and re-define which habits you are working on. Some, you might find, don't really align with your values you way you thought they would. Or you decide those values need to change. Or you re-order the priorities. That's fine. Continual self-assessment is one of the gifts of the habit-creating process. But do stay the course. Consistency and commitment will get you far toward the future self you envision.
Again, maintaining good health, whatever that means for you, isn’t a destination to be reached - it is a process to be lived and practiced and repeated and sustained. It is a continuous process toward progress, not perfection.
If you are interested using a Personal Trainer or Small Group Fitness training to support you in your new habits, contact us at TrainMovePlayPT@gmail.com . Or fill out the contact form on our website, TrainMovePlay.com for a complimentary consultation, and let's discuss your goals and plans. Virtual assistance and program-setting are available.