The Gentlest Entry Point to Change: Start with Tracking
Are you familiar with that feeling of wanting to make positive changes in your life but struggling to follow through? Whether it’s improving your diet, getting into a regular exercise routine, managing your finances better, or being more focused at work, change can be challenging. However, before you dive headfirst into transformation, there’s a gentle entry point that can set you on the path to meaningful and sustainable change: tracking.
Often, we’re eager to embrace new habits and shed old ones. We set ambitious goals and create grand plans to revolutionize our lives. While enthusiasm is essential, it’s not always the most effective starting point. Instead, take a step back and have an honest look at what you’re doing right now.
Understanding the Current State
To begin the process of transformation, you need to understand your current habits and behaviors. Tracking involves keeping a record of your daily actions and decisions. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, start by documenting what you eat and drink. If you want to exercise regularly, record your workouts and the activities you engage in.
This self-awareness is essential because it brings to light the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It helps you recognize patterns and identify areas that need improvement. Instead of imposing radical changes immediately, tracking allows you to make small, manageable adjustments that align with your current lifestyle.
Why Tracking Works
Realistic Assessment: Tracking forces you to confront the reality of your daily choices. It’s an unfiltered look at what you’re doing, which can be eye-opening. This awareness is the foundation of effective change.
Incremental Progress: By tracking, you can make small, consistent changes to your behavior. Instead of drastically altering your routine, you can take gradual steps, making the process less overwhelming and more sustainable.
Adaptability: Tracking provides you with the information needed to adapt and adjust your approach. If you’re not making the progress you desire, you can pivot and refine your strategy based on your insights.
Motivation: As you see your progress, even if it’s slow, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue. Tracking serves as a visual representation of your efforts, reinforcing your commitment to change.
The Power of Tracking
In 2016, I started to track how many books I read. I used the Notes app on my phone and I simply wrote down the Year, the title of the book, and the author. Here’s what happened:
- 2016 – 13 books
- 2017 – 20 books
- 2018 – 21 books
- 2019 – 34 books
- 2020 – 21 books
- 2021 – 34 books
- 2022 – 50 books
Now, I know that I would not be reading as much as I do now if I had tried to go from reading a book a month to book or so a week. In fact, all I wanted to know was how much I was actually reading. Tracking let me see where I was at and because I was tracking I read more. It was that simple until 2020, when I replaced reading time with news and social media. That was when I realized the cost of my unhealthy new habits and I used my accountability group to make commitments to help me disengage. I truly enjoy reading but never in my life did I imagine that I would be able to read at the level I am now and I know I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t started with tracking.
While it may seem like a slower approach, tracking is the key to achieving lasting change. Quick fixes and dramatic overhauls often lead to burnout or relapse. In contrast, tracking paves the way for sustainable transformation because it’s rooted in reality and adaptable to your life.
So, the next time you find yourself eager to make a change, know that you can start gently. Understand where you are right now, acknowledge your habits, and gradually implement the changes you want to see. Over time, these small, meaningful adjustments will accumulate, leading to a healthier, more balanced, and more fulfilling life. Remember, the gentlest entry point to change is to start with tracking – a method that empowers you to evolve at your own pace and ensures your progress is not only attainable but sustainable.
If you’d like to learn more about our methodologies and apply them to your own planning and change process, we invite you to check out, the AW 1-Year Undated Planner.