Progress in anything suggests that one of the key indicators of successful progression is tracking. Especially when looking at the number of day planners aimed at productivity or the neuroscience of habit formation.
Almost like an obvious secret, having information on how things are going and what isn’t working is crucial to making the correct tweaks in the path forward.
And yet, we’re often blocked from unlocking that information. We don’t track our progress often enough.
Perfectionism and the Fear of Failure
I’ve tried so many different goal-setting charts, methods of journalling, or story-crafting and visualisation to focus on my right path, but sometimes we get caught up in finding the ‘right tracker.’
From bullet journaling to ta-da lists, the GTD (Get Things Done) movement or three main tasks… There is no ‘right’ answer because we change, situations shift and as we walk our path, the goals themselves shift.
Even when we’re successful in measuring one thing long enough, we then change course. Our current tracking method is no longer fit for purpose.
Moving onto a new goalpost changes many of the rules. We might need to shift what exactly we track. Taking a step forward may bring up new twists and blocks.
Yet, for those of us who try to track things, we often feel lost.
We often feel like we don’t know where to put our feet next. Even as we track things, we find ourselves stumbling through brambles. Personally, I’ve found this to be a sign that I am tracking too many variables. If I cannot act on the information, there’s little point in recording it.
This is where a track of our past steps, or pausing to look ahead at the path can be so informative.
Knowledge is Power
The one tangible thing we control is the steps we take along the journey. We cannot control the obstacles or meanders in our path. The weather along this trail is out of our hands. But we can choose to step forward, backwards, sideways or to pause in place.
Your only aim needs to be to find a way of collecting the data, like a scientist, that will allow you make a more informed decision.
We’re living in a culture where we so often feel the need to constantly be moving forward, to be busy, to keep hustling forward.
It’s okay to pause. You’re allowed to reflect. Sometimes it’s beneficial to refill your well.
And to review the path so far, both behind us and ahead, it’s helpful to have some kind of note-taking at the time. My memory is not good enough to show me every step I took across the grassy field behind me. Having a map, even if it’s only of the path walked so far, gives us a great foundation for crafting the steps ahead.
A Monthly View
My current favourite is to look at patterns in what I’ve done each month. I use a bog-standard monthly layout, and for June actually drew out my own decent sized boxes.
From a business view, I write when I submitted an article, then track new views or subscribers. Personally, I stamp/doodle each day I workout. I keep track of healthy eating days & alcohol intake to keep an eye on my energy levels.
And it takes me under a minute a day.
An example square might say: “3A, a, pub XYZ” which means I completed workout 3A (a specific set of reps and rounds), (a) i drank some form of alcohol, article published in XYZ.”
That’s all I need. When people talk about journaling or diaries, or tracking habits, it can feel overwhelming. I’ve found this is working for me right now, but the only tracking that works, is one you actually complete.
If you’re into digital tracking, I’ve also used a free journaling app called Daylio for nearly 2 years which just involves clicking the pictures rather than being required to write a story of the day.
Take a Chance on Tracking
So, next time you get stuck in that ‘lost’ space, write down where you’re at, and where you’ve been that week, or as long back as you can remember. See what patterns arise, and how on-track you’re feeling.
Without knowledge of what is or is not working, we’re just changing directions in the dark. And although this may work in some cases, being able to see the options ahead is only going to add to your sense of clarity and direction.