Tracking Habits ≠ Building Habits

UPDATED ON APR 27, 2023 : 268 words, 2 minute read — PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

I struggle to make habits stick in my life — that is, the good ones. Collecting Jolly Ranchers from my apartment lobby had no problem sticking around as a bad habit. When the willpower to build new habits strikes, I fall into the same pattern:

  1. Get excited about adopting new good habits.
  2. Add a whole bunch to a habit tracking app.
  3. daily check-in of what I completed when my reminder pops up (10+ days).
  4. Get frustrated and sad when I see a bunch of fails ❌ and not a chain of success ✅.

Tracking Habits ≠ Building Habits 🔗︎

What the heck is going wrong??? After checking the “No I didn’t do it I suck” button for the umpteenth time, something clicked. I’d been confusing tracking habits with building habits. While tracking is great to see progress, it doesn’t help you actually take the next action in the chain. I was doing the equivalent of recording number of showers, never taking one, then wondering why people run away choking & crying 🤮.

Add a trigger 🔗︎

Despite having read Atomic Habits twice now (2!!), I missed applying one of the core elements of building a habit — a cue to trigger it in your daily life. It could be an event, attaching it to an existing ritual (habit stacking), or even as simple as an annoying alarm. Find whatever you need that will kick you into gear consistently, then put it into place. Changing your behavior can be a daunting task, but keep your reason for change top of mind & keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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