Habits You Should Track

Factors to consider when choosing a new habit to track:

  • Motivation: choose a habit you personally care about. If you pick a habit out of a sense of obligation, your motivation will fade.
  • Regularity: find a habit you can track daily. Each habit repetition enforces it as a behavior and strengthens the pathways in your brain related to it. 
  • Achievability: choose something achievable so you’ll feel that if you put the effort you can do it. 

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You can’t fully focus on any behavior if you try to establish several at once. 

Doing so risks overloading your willpower and your habits may end up competing for priority.

The best way to turn a behavior into a habit is to use a trigger to remind yourself to do it. Your trigger needs to be something you always do anyway. Anything you already do without thinking works.

As you build new habits, you create new triggers for yourself and stack a new habit onto it. Each existing habit acts as a trigger to remind you to complete the next one until it becomes natural to do both together. 

To make your habits automatic faster, plan them into your day. Do them in the same way, in the same place, at the same time every day.

If you complete your new habit at any time, on any day, you won’t get the advantage of familiarity that helps you get used to doing that behavior without thinking about it.

  • Paper: if you use a diary or daily planner, make notes each day if you completed your habit or not. If you do a regular weekly or monthly review, this is a great time to check back through your notes to see how you’re progressing over time.
  • Spreadsheet: you can set up a simple sheet to track if you complete your habit each day. This is a good way to make your tracking more visual so you can get an idea of a glance about how you’re going.
  • Mobile Apps: these are convenient and you can access them anywhere.

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RELATED IDEAS

Project-Driven Habits

Ignore the process of creating habits altogether and simply focus on a project that will force them to occur.

Pros:

  • You can often change multiple habits at the same time with less overhead. 
  • Help you be flexible about adopting and dropping habits based on what works.

Cons:

  • Once the project is done, the habits may go with them.
  • A project can often eat up or push out other good habits.

9

IDEAS

There’s no magical number...

...of days to form a new habit.

Instead, habits come about gradually over time and in a non-linear fashion.

The Habit Loop

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.

Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response, reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits.

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