My latest obsession was not on my bingo card: habit tracking.
I’ve admittedly fallen into such a rut these past few years while working from home. I roll out of bed right before I have to log on for the day, giving me no time to prepare—let alone connect with myself. I’ve gotten less into exercising and more into napping. My daily walks have stretched into weekly walks.
I knew I was capable of doing much more with my time, especially since I spent the majority of my career in an office. I even commuted from Connecticut to New York daily at one point! If I could find the time to succeed at my job, go to workout classes, eat well, and have a social life before, I could do it again. I just needed a push.
In November, I searched the “Self Help” section of Spotify podcasts. So much of the content in the genre seems to be posted by people that are totally unrelatable to me. Sad to Savage by Shelby Sacco caught my eye for two reasons—the sassy name and the photo of a woman who looked to be close to my age.
Over the following month of listening to Shelby’s podcast as well as reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I learned more than I ever expected.
First, I discovered the “Habit Loop.” Habits consist of three elements: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Those words are pretty self explanatory, but putting them into action is another story.
One of Shelby’s tips is to habit track—aka write out your daily, weekly, and/or monthly habits, and keep track of how often you complete them. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. Well, spoiler alert: I’m now almost halfway through my second month of habit tracking, and I’m addicted (in the best way possible).
Everyone’s habits will be different, of course, but here are the daily habits I’m currently tracking:
- Work out
- My workouts are a blend of Melissa Wood Health, in person classes via Classpass, and free workouts on YouTube (I’ve been loving MadFit’s dance cardio videos and dumbbell workouts as well as Juice & Toya’s HIIT workouts).
- Drink water
- A minimum of three full Owala water bottles (72 ounces) with a goal of four (96 ounces).
- A minimum of 6000 steps with a goal of 10,000.
- Learn French on Duolingo
- About 15 minutes.
- You already know my reading preferences are all over the place, but here’s a taste.
- Self improvement activity
- I classify this as listening to a self-help podcast, reading a self-help book, journaling, meditating, etc.
- I know that flexibility is key as we start to get older (ugh) so I’m bringing stretching into my routine—including neck exercises for my “tech neck.”
- Sleep hygiene
- The hardest habit for me by a landslide! I allow myself to check this one off if I’m in bed by 11:15, out of bed before 9, and don’t press snooze more than once.
As of now, the only weekly habit I’m tracking is journaling. If you want to see an example of prompts I use, head to my Instagram story highlight.
To make hitting the above habits easier, I’ve been habit stacking: choosing a habit I already do daily and stacking a new habit on top. For example, I:
- Listen to a self-improvement podcast while walking, showering, or doing dishes
- Read while getting my steps in on my walking pad
- Stretch at the end of my workouts
I’ve noticed that once I check off a habit for the day, it makes me more excited to tackle the others. Which brings me to another concept—keystone habits. These provide the foundation for the rest of ‘em. For Shelby, a keystone habit is making the bed every morning. For me, it’s practicing Duolingo while I drink my coffee every morning.
Tracking my habits has even helped build my confidence to try new things. I’ve attended new workout classes, been playing around with crafting, and even went to a few dance classes—totally out of my comfort zone, especially as someone with a lot of anxiety.
While I’m still very new to this journey, I must say I’m feeling better mentally and physically so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing the process while focusing on progress—not perfection.