This is the time of the year when many people start thinking about how they might develop more consistency in their healthy practices and intentions and, maybe, add some new positive habits. I’ve been working to cultivate a system that motivates me and gives me a sense of accomplishment, without increasing negative feelings for missed goals. I was looking for some accountability without guilt, in other words. (And, aren’t we all, Tea Friends?) So, I ran some habit tracker experiments this year. In this post, I’ll share my reflections with you.
I have been focusing on three main practices: walking, meditating, and engaging mindfully with my tea. These practices have really helped me navigate better through life. My intention is to do each of these things on most days. I was looking for a way to chart my progress. My preference was to find a method that wasn’t digital.
Spiral Habit Trackers
I tried free printable habit trackers, like this one, that I found online. They provided a circle or spiral with different rows you could color in cell by cell each time you complete a target practice. That was pretty cool. I liked using different colors and the spiral/circular pattern. It was fun to fill it in every day for every practice I kept. After using that for a while, I created a spiral variation by freehand in my journal. I really liked that one even more because I didn’t have to figure out where to put that piece of paper. (Happily, my journal already has a place!)
Habit Trackers with Different Images
After a few months of using spirals, I tried different images for my habit tracker experiment. First, I tried drawing a tea cup with different “beams” of steam that represented my different practices. (Once a tea geek, always a tea geek!) To my surprise, I did not like using that one as much. The way I filled it in by extending the beams vertically made me feel more critical of my missed days–like I was on a marketing team and missing my monthly sales goals! (No thank you!) I’ll have to see if I can think of another tea-themed tracker that would feel more satisfying to use.
Next, I tried drawing a tree and filling it with a color-coded leaf with the day of the month for each completed practice. I really liked this for autumn. It was fun to add those leaves. It dovetailed nicely with my desire to re-leaf those beautiful autumn trees instead of watching them go bare. 😉 Downside: it was harder to get a sense of how often I was meeting my goals. It also didn’t show patterns that might give me insight into days when I was finding it harder to meet my practice intentions.
Future Plans for Tracking Intentions
What are my future plans for habit-tracker experiments? I might try some kind of spiral calendar next. (I’m worried a straight-forward calendar would feel judge-y.) Having the days of the week lined up might offer insight. Maybe I always have trouble walking on Wednesdays, or having a mindful tea session on Thursdays, for example. How will I know–and consider what I might do about it–unless I can recognize that pattern?
I know some people might bristle at tracking how they meet their intentions this way. I understand that! And, maybe once I more consistently integrate all of these practices into my daily life, I will ditch the habit trackers. But, right now, it’s helpful. So, I plan to continue.
Of course, there’s so much more to bringing intentionality and healthy practices into our day than habit trackers! One really big struggle for me, which I have written about, is rejecting a culture of (time) scarcity.
What do you think? What has worked for you or what do you think would be fun to try?