Want to know where you stand in the five values of life tied to happiness (Your 5 Cores), take this two-minute Core Values Quiz to get your core score in the five values of life.

Importance of a Habit Journal - Why It is the Key to Developing Your 5 Cores

Jul 9, 2022

Keeping a habit journal is the most effective way to form successful habits in the main areas of your life that contribute to your happiness.

Here's why:

Elite performers often use various methods to measure, quantify, and monitor their progress. Every single measurement provides feedback. It tells them if they're on the right track or need to rethink their strategy.

A good example is New York City chef Gabrielle Hamilton. Chef Hamilton said in an interview with the New York Times that there is a distinct difference between how chefs prepare food and how ordinary people prepare it: "The chef always tastes every ingredient before putting it into the dish, right down to the grain of salt."

"As if it were a wine, we slurp-shot glasses of olive oil and aerate them in our mouths. It's a tradition for us to taste each ingredient before we use it.  Salt is chewed to discover how it feels in our mouths, how it tastes on our tongues, and how salty it is."

Chefs use the taste of the ingredients to gauge their progress toward achieving their desired outcome. It gives them the immediate feedback they require to perfect the recipe.

Trial and error is a common way to improve our habits, just as it is for a chef refining a recipe. It's like a chef adjusting a recipe's ingredients if one approach doesn't work out.

There is a big difference, however, between getting feedback while cooking a meal and getting feedback while developing a habit. Developing a new habit is slow, and feedback is often delayed. In the kitchen, it's simple to taste an ingredient or watch bread rise in the oven.

The problem is that it can be challenging to see how much progress you've made with your habits. You could have been running for a month and haven't noticed any physical changes. After 16 consecutive days of meditation, you may still feel anxious and stressed at work.

Habits take time to form. The desired outcomes can take time to manifest. It is vital to have a reason to stick with something while awaiting the long-term benefits of your efforts. You need immediate confirmation that you're on the right track to keep you motivated.

As a result, it may be beneficial to use a habit journal.

What Is a habit journal, and how does it work?

Using a habit journal is a convenient way to determine whether or not you've performed a habit.

The simplest method of creating a daily journal is to get a calendar and mark off each day that you adhere to your schedule as usual. You get Xs for each day you meditate if you do it three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The calendar serves as a record of your daily habits as time goes on.

The most crucial aspect of your habit journal is that it provides direct evidence that you completed your habit. It's a good sign that you're on the right path. That's not the only thing it does, however.

Advantages of a Habit Journal

The following are some other main benefits of keeping a habit journal.

  • It serves as a visual reminder to take action.

  • It's uplifting to see how far you've come.

  • It's gratifying to have a record of your accomplishments right when they happen.

  • You'll be reminded to take action with a habit journal.

  • Tracking your habits naturally creates a series of visual reminders. When you see your streak on the calendar, you'll be reminded to get back to work.

People who keep track of their weight loss, smoking cessation, and blood pressure reduction are more likely to see progress than those who don't. People who kept a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who did not, according to a study of more than 16,000 people. In order to get motivated to change a habit, all you have to do is record it in a habit journal.

Tracking your habits also helps you stay on track. People tend to overestimate their behavior. Measurement is one way to overcome our inability to see our own behavior and become aware of what's going on in our lives on a regular basis. Keeping the evidence in plain sight reduces the likelihood of self-delusion.

Progress is the most effective way to keep people motivated. We are more likely to press on with something once we have evidence that we are progressing in the right direction. When used in this way, habit tracking has the potential to become physically addictive. It is the small victories that keep you going.

On a bad day, this can be incredibly effective. Feeling down can make it easy to lose sight of all the accomplishments you've made thus far. Tracking your habits is a great way to see the results of your efforts and a gentle reminder of how far you've come because you don't want to lose your progress by interrupting your streak. Seeing an empty square each morning can serve as an additional source of motivation.

A habit journal also provides an immediate sense of accomplishment. An X on the calendar or a crossed-out item on your to-do list is a sense of accomplishment. It's rewarding to see your progress; if it's rewarding, you're more likely to stick with it.

You're less concerned with the outcome and more concerned with the process when you use habit tracking. As long as you keep up the streak and don't miss a workout, you'll be able to achieve your goal of a six-pack.

Two Ways to Make Your Habit Journal More Effective

The benefits of keeping a habit journal are undeniable, but you don't have to record every single thing you do throughout the day. Tracking a habit seems like extra work if you're already doing it. So, what should your habit journal be measuring?

For those of us who tend to forget or put off certain behaviors when life gets hectic, habit tracking can be a helpful tool.

The Two-Minute Rule

I always advocate following the Two-Minute Rule, which states that your habits should be trimmed down to the point where they take no more than two minutes to complete. I recommend starting with these small habits in your habit journal to ensure that you are at least showing up in a small way every day.

Here are some examples, broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly routines, to get you started.

The following are examples of common daily routines to keep track of:

  • Jot down one sentence in your diary.

  • One minute of reading, one minute of meditation, and one minute of stretching.

  • Make your bed and get ready for the day by [TIME].

  • Bedtime should be no later than [TIME].

  • Shower, brush my teeth, weigh myself, and take my prescription medication.

  • Make use of supplemental nutrition.

  • One minute of [INSTRUMENT]

  • One potential client should be contacted.

  • Prioritize your to-do list and say "I love you" at least once each day.

Most of these tasks can be completed in less than two minutes. To maintain your routine even on the most challenging days, make your habits as simple as possible.

Weekly or Monthly Habit Journal 

A habit is formed through constant repetition. Most of our daily routine is a sequence of habits such as brushing our teeth when we wake up, for instance. However, a habit journal can be useful for different weekly or monthly routines. A habit journal can remind you to complete these behaviors even if they don't become "automatic”, like tying your shoes. Examples of week-to-week habits to keep track of include:

  • Write and post a blog entry.

  • Vacuum.

  • Clean up after yourself.

  • Make a list of to-dos: wash the dishes, water the plants, and clean your room.

  • Examine your financial situation, transfer funds to a savings account, and pay off any outstanding debts.

  • Bills are paid, and the house is thoroughly cleaned.

Avoidance behaviours

Lastly, you can use a habit journal to record what you don't accomplish. "Habits of avoidance" are what I call them (that is, behaviors you are trying to avoid).

  • There will be no alcohol.

  • There is no access to Netflix.

  • Not making any purchases on the internet.

  • Absence of all sodas, sugars, and caffeinated beverages; prohibition of smoking.

If you're looking for an easy-to-use habit journal, the Habit Journal is a great option. You don't have to spend an hour drawing a grid. All you need to get started is a list of your daily routines.

How to Form The Habit Of Using Your Habit Journal

If tracking and measuring your habits seems daunting, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to increase your odds of integrating this life-changing system into your life.

1) As a first step, you should only use manual tracking to keep tabs on the most critical behaviors. Consistently tracking one habit is preferable to randomly tracking ten. When it comes to keeping track of my habits, I keep it simple and only include the three or four critical to my well-being.

2) Second, make a note of each measurement as soon as the habit is formed. When you've finished a habit, that's when you should jot it down. This is a variation of the "habit stacking" strategy.

There are several ways to track your habits, but here's the basic formula:

  • When I finish a sales call, I will mark the "call one potential client" column.

  • My "meditating for 1 minute" column will be filled in after I've finished.

  • As soon as I've finished putting my plate in the dishwasher, I'll complete the "put all dishes away" task.

Using your habit journal regularly is what we're aiming for here. It's easier to keep track of your progress if you follow these simple guidelines.

How to Quickly Recover When Your Routines Fail

Finally, I'd like to touch on what to do if you find yourself straying from your plan.

Every habit streak comes to an end. It's impossible to be perfect. Unexpected events happen all the time: getting sick, having to travel for work, or your family simply needing more of your attention. Reminding myself of a simple rule helps me when this happens.

Never miss a shot.

When I miss a day, I try to get back into the routine as soon as possible to make it up to the previous day. Even if I miss one workout, I won't skip two in a row. Regardless of how much pizza I consume, I will follow it up with a nutritious meal.

Whenever one streak comes to an end, I immediately get to work on the next one. Although I can't be completely error-free, I can at least avoid making the second mistake.

The first mistake you make will rarely be the one that ends your life. What follows is a never-ending cycle of blunders. As we know, missing one is an accident. When you miss twice, you've started a new routine.

Often, we find ourselves in an all-or-nothing situation when it comes to our habits. There isn't a problem with making mistakes; instead, the issue is with the mindset that if you can't do something perfectly, you shouldn't bother trying.

Although it's nice to have a perfect habit journal, it's not always feasible. Life is a mess. In the long run, the most important thing is that you figure out how to get your life back on course.

My Habits: How Long Do I Need to Keep Track of Them?

"How long does it take to form a habit?" is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive.

The answers will range from 21 days to 30 days to a whopping 100 days. According to one study, it takes 66 days to form a habit. There was a wide range of difficulty in the habit even within that study.

When someone asks, "How long does it take to form a habit?" I find that the question that they are trying to ask is "How long until it's easy? "

You see, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. When it comes to improving habits, this line of questioning misses the point entirely.

A habit is a way of life, not a goal. Small, long-term changes that you can keep up for years are your goal. On the path of behaviour modification, you can use a habit journal as a tool. It's a great way to show how far you've come and inspire you to keep going.

Want to know where you stand in the five values of life tied to happiness (Your 5 Cores)? Take this two-minute Core Values Quiz to get your core score in the five values of life.

logo

Will Moore is a gamification, habits and happiness expert.

Learn More

Find Me On

Weekly Wisdom in your Inbox

The newsletter that elevates your life. Get your weekly dose of well-being.

© 2022 Will Moore | Designed & Developed by Exobyte