The Power of The (Green) Tick
Habit Trackers. Sound like something space aged?
No. A simple sheet of paper with boxes that you need to just colour GREEN or RED or just put a “Tick” or “Cross” in it will suffice.
Really? … Yup.
As a baseline, that’s it.
The trick is to put it in a place where you can see it. By your bed, by the front door, in the kitchen, somewhere you can see your progress or can act as a reminder to take action.
We know there are many different habit trackers, paper and app versions, on the market. There are even expensive habit journals.
We are not saying don’t use them. Find one that you feel can get your forming, building and creating habit streaks.
A streak is a series of successive completions, sort of like a winning streak. But with a habit instead. For example, seven days of doing a 10-minute meditation will be a seven-day streak. Then you try to stretch it to 14 days, 21 days, 30 days and so forth.
I have used pretty ones, fancy ones, complex ones, supposedly science-based ones, ordered ones from the US. One thing never failed to happen:
I always went back to the simplest version.
A simple sheet of paper with boxes that you need to just colour GREEN or RED or just put a “Tick” or “Cross” in it will suffice.
I even told myself to colour a box with GREEN for completed and RED for not completed. And even that just ultimately wasted time and energy. (Well, I actually kept wasting time trying to find the Green or Red pens)
And I just added a tick or cross in the box. With a pen, pencil, marker, anything.
Just because it’s fancy, does not mean its better. In fact, it can become distracting. The habit tracker becomes a task.
DON’T let it do that! The habit you want to build is your task! Not making a habit of having a pretty habit tracker or having to fill out a complex form.
This is what we use. It’s simple. And it works.
But in the spirit of support and advice, we share some resources for other paper-based trackers.
- The Petite Planner: 21 Free Printable Planners (Some great trackers)
- Teal Notes Habit Tracker (We actually like this one)
- 31 Free Printable Habit Tracker Templates (A big resource)
But How Should I Use A Habit Tracker?
There are quite a few resources for why and how you should use a Habit Tracker. But James Clear has what we feel is the best.
And as we love his book Atomic Habits, we strongly encourage you to read his excerpt of the “why and how” of habit trackers:
The Importance of Habit Trackers and Resolutions
“Every day is a New Year’s Day if you want to start something good” My Grandad Chanan Sidhu
This is a truth I live with every day. I won’t say I am always successful. But it reminds me never to wait to start something that can be life fulfilling.
If I fail, never mind. BUT I will pick myself up, I will learn from it, and I try again immediately.
And tracking your progress gives you a visual representation of your journey.
We love the quote below (Sadly, we cannot find the source!) BUT we have decided to share it with you here till we do.
It’s not JUST about New Year’s Resolutions, it’s about any resolution and why you need to track your journey.
This is the ugly truth of New Year’s resolutions.
Most don’t make it to February.
The desire for change is honest, timely and much needed.
‘I want to do this better.’
‘Enough of me like this.’
But the tool for the change is tragically and reliably weak.
Willpower is the brown paper bag of change.
Fine in the sunshine.
And useless in the rain.
Willpower is like a muscle.
As you depend upon it throughout the day, it tires.
Just when you need it to be strong.
Most people run out of willpower before they run out of day.
Yup, the more you use it, the weaker it gets.
Not a good combo for change, by the way.
So how do you win at New Year’s resolutions?
You have to get ‘willpower’ to team up with ‘loss aversion.’
(Reinforce the brown paper bag with Kevlar.)
This Nobel prize-winning insight goes like this:
‘Loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains: it is better to not lose £5 than to find £5.’
Because after about ten days of putting X’s into the boxes you say this to yourself:
‘I haven’t come this far only to come this far.’
And it is on your kitchen wall, so it is visible.
Your kids can see it.
Your family can see it.
Heck, you can see it.
Do that, and you are much more likely to nail your resolution.
Loss aversion is more powerful than willpower.
But you can combine them.
Then the brown paper bag gets reinforced with Kevlar.
If anyone can help us find the source of this quote, we will be ever so grateful!
We will repeat this again. It is so critical.
IF IT’S THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU, SCHEDULE IT!
IT WILL KEEP YOU FOCUSED.
And again, we cannot stress this enough.
Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. Awareness.
It really is everything. If you missed a task one day:
STOP. THINK. REFLECT. WHY?
Why did it happen? What made you miss that thing so important to you that you actually scheduled it?
“What can I do to make sure that it does not happen tomorrow?”
Work backwards from the moment you did not do what was planned.
What was the immediate reason you did not do what was planned?
What caused THAT immediate reason?
And before that?
Don’t walk through life blindly.
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