Disclaimer: follow the advice below at your own risk… if you stay at it long enough, it just works!
I won’t rant about the reasons why you should track progress daily or how beneficial it can be for you. There’s enough anecdotal and empirical evidence out there. And I won’t even bother hyperlinking for reference. You know where to look!
Back to my point — I used to hate tracking. Just the sheer act of crunching in data was so painful that I would make excuses for not doing it. And I suffered. For years! Thankfully, I changed all that a couple of years ago, starting with tracking my habits, then routines, then food (which was hard) and finally transitioned to finances (which I still sort of dislike) early this year.
I also track my behaviors every day using a set of daily questions that I ask and rate myself on. Yeah, I know, it’s weird but it works. And I’m pretty sure that if I stay at it, I just might become good at anything that I set my sights on. And all it takes is two minutes. Alright, don’t freak out. I had the same reaction when I heard it the first time. Two minutes to become good at anything I want is just too good to be true! I hear ya!
In fact, Marshall Goldsmith predicts that you’re probably going to quit (half of the population that “tries out” the daily questions strategy) in just two weeks! And that’s not because it doesn’t work but because it works. Why? Because the daily questions routine is “simple” to do but “difficult” to practice!
Here’s how to do it:
- Create a spreadsheet or your journal or Evernote or the Impact Daily or the Daily Q’s app (which Marshall and his team created). Whatever works for you.
- Write down a list of 6-15 daily habits that you would like to focus on. These should ideally be aligned with your values and beliefs or just random goals if you’re just keen to test this out.
- Lay out the days of the week (Monday to Sunday) across the goals so that you can mark a YES (if you were able to carry out that goal that day) or NO (if you weren’t able to) or a 1 (YES) or a 0 (NO).
- At the end of the week, you’ll have a scorecard of your performance over the past 7 days. And it might not be pretty in the beginning but if you’re like me, you’d go crazy and will focus on improving the score over the next week and the next and thereon. If you’re not like me, this strategy surely deserves another week of your life before you choose to discard it.
Here’s a set of questions that I use every day:
- Did I do my best today to build positive relationships?
- Did I do my best today to make progress towards your yearly goals?
- Did I do my best today to invest instead of spending money?
As you can tell, the questions are highly personal and aligned with my personal goals, values, and beliefs. Your questions can (and should) be different.
If you’re still skeptical, you should probably give it a try. If not, try it anyway. You don’t have to stick with the process but it sure is an experience to just see how tracking behaviors can affect the way you think about life.