Tracking Can Turn Your Life Around
When we’re trying to implement a new system, create a new habit, change our way of being, or resolve a problem, tracking is helpful.
I know this doesn’t sound fun or doable for many of you, but I have learned the hard way that tracking makes a difference in how well I do in any of the above scenarios.
Tracking helps with consistency. You can see at a glance how you are doing and, in fact, if you are doing.
When you track you can’t pretend that you are doing better than you are. You also can’t delude yourself that you aren’t doing enough. It becomes clear if a family system is working or needs to be revamped. You can tell if your behaviors are modifying, or if you’re responding differently than in the past.
Some weeks my consistency may be pitiful. Some weeks it is awesome. But tracking helps me even it out over the space of a year, and that helps me accomplish things I might not otherwise get done.
Here is an example –
I currently have a tracking grid on my office wall. My office is in my bedroom, so it’s very convenient and frankly, occasionally irritating. LOL I am just like the rest of you. I would rather not have what I need to do and where I am falling short staring me in the face. The grid also gives me the courage to keep going because I can see what I have done, even if it isn’t as much as I wish I had done.
You may laugh, but I use this grid to track how often I contact my family members and a few people that need my care. You see, I am a project person. I care about people, and I love my family, but I can get caught up in my work and let days or weeks go by without reaching out to those who matter and those who need to feel they matter.
Another example –
On my daily worksheet, in my morning routine, I have included meditation. I know I haven’t meditated for months because I haven’t been able to scratch it off. This week I meditated for 4 whole minutes. It was so satisfying to mark it done that I know I will do it again. I will become more consistent. I just needed to begin, and tracking has helped me finally get going. (P.S. I have done it again!)
Things like prayer, scripture reading, taking my vitamins, and exercising aren’t a problem. I am completely consistent. But I still track them on my daily worksheet because some days go south early. When I am finally able to sit down and look at my list and realize that it is noon and I haven’t taken those vitamins or said that prayer, I can stop and do it. It keeps me from missing things that are important to me.
A third example –
Consistency isn’t a well-practiced skill for my husband and because he has health issues it needs to be. So, he asked me to make him some simple tracking grids. They are on the edge of his computer screen where he can’t miss them. He also has a couple in the bathroom where he can track his blood sugar, weight, etc. Don tends to think he is doing better than he is. LOL Tracking keeps him in reality. He isn’t a list guy and so making that check mark can be challenging. But just seeing the tracking sheet helps him get up and walk, take his meds, weigh himself, etc.
Example four –
I recently finished a book by Darren Hardy. I didn’t want to read it but felt I should. It has turned out to be extremely valuable to me. There is a chapter on tracking. He didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know, but he reminded me of some things I had put on the back burner and got me to move on a problem I hadn’t been able to solve.
Darren suggested that we track one thing we really needed to change to make our lives better: watch less tv, drink or smoke less, get more sleep, stop overeating or eating poorly, track how your money is spent, and the list went on. I wasn’t having an issue with anything on his list! And the one thing that does cause me a little concern, well, I was already tracking it. I asked myself and God what I needed to track that I wasn’t already tracking to make my life better.
In 2022 I had a story that was causing me a lot of grief. Here it is – There is no place in my life for me, I am invisible. I said it out loud in anger, frequently. After pondering and some prayer I felt I should track when I was making space in my life for me.
What! I couldn’t believe it, because I wasn’t doing things for myself. I was on call 24-7 practically. My life wasn’t my own. I didn’t want to see in black and white, what I already knew. But I got a small notebook and each day I would write down anything I did for myself. Guess what, every day there were at least 5 things and often more.
Why hadn’t I seen this before? It was because I wasn’t letting things count. You heard that right; I wasn’t letting things count. They were on my daily list, and I was scratching them off, but I wasn’t letting them count. Prayer is for me. Reading my scriptures is for me. I mean, no one holds a gun to my head and says you must. I have learned in seventy-three years that these two things help me manage my day better. But I wasn’t recognizing them as ways I fit myself into my very busy and often chaotic life.
Then there is the walk I take daily, with my weights. Isn’t that for me? Of course, it is. I do it because I want my brain to work well and I want to be able to walk till I am 100. Again no one makes me. No one chides me if I don’t. There isn’t any guilt if I do or not. I’m seventy-three. I could let it go. But I do it for me because I want to. I don’t get to it every day, but I get to it enough days to know that I am fitting myself into my life!
Here are a few other things that I discovered I wasn’t letting count – taking my nutrition, writing in my gratitude journal, smiling on purpose (yes that is on my to-do list LOL), reading in the bathroom a few times a day. You see, I was doing a great many things for myself because I want to. I was taking care of me. Every day I did things to build my body, my mind, my heart, my faith, me, because I love me. I just hadn’t recognized it.
So, what was the outcome of this tracking exercise?
The story is DEAD! and with it the resentment and anger that I was feeling. The weariness has lessened.
I have also been adding a few things. I decided I wasn’t connecting with old friends enough. To make that happen I had to come up with a system. Here it is. I picked three women I love but wasn’t talking to, even yearly. I reached out to them, and we set up a phone call every 3 months. It’s on my calendar and that is how I track it and make sure it happens. This is an exercise in fitting me into my life.
Truth be told, when I see a call on my calendar I inwardly groan because I have stuff to do. : ) Remember I am a project person. LOL But it’s there on the calendar, and it happens. I love these women and I enjoy talking to them when we get on the phone, but if I wasn’t tracking it wouldn’t happen.
Tracking matters. It helps us do the things we really want to do. Tracking helps us learn to be more consistent, so the outcome is better. And if you are feeling less than, left out, or like me, invisible in your own life, then track. See if the story is true or if you have been deluding yourself and not letting things count.
If you find the story is true, then determine what is within your power to turn it around, then track your efforts. This can change your life. It has changed mine. 2022 was a VERY hard year because of the untrue story I believed with all my heart until October. I have now rewritten that story and I am very glad! So is my family. : )
If tracking seems overwhelming to you, know that there are many ways to track. It may be a daily list. It may be a grid on the wall. It may be a date on the calendar or marbles you drop in a container : ) or any number of other ways. Find what works for you, then give it a try.