The Paradox of Habit Tracking

Note to my future self..

Last month I read Atomic Habits and since then I’ve been thinking a lot more intentionally about my habits and my routines. For example, I’ve made substantial progress in establishing a morning routine but I still need to work on my night routine. I’ve been able to exercise and meditate every single day for the past two weeks without missing a single day. If you had told me that a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have believed you. Now that’s all good but this isn’t the point of this essay.

Today it dawned on me that the purpose of tracking your habits is to get to a point where they become second nature and you actually stop tracking them. In other words, the point of tracking habits is to (eventually) not track anything. Think about it. Do you track how many days you’ve showered in a row? Probably not. There’s really no need for this because it’s something that you do every single day and you don’t even think whether you will do it or not. I think that this should be our intended behavior towards any habit that we want to embed in our lives.

I do agree that initially it might good to track the habit that you’re trying to create in order to build some momentum and reconcile that habit with your identity. However, after a brief incubation period I think that you should stop tracking the habit because it’s just not very useful. Furthermore, if you can free your brain from keeping count you can use that headspace to track another habit or do something completely different.

Actually writing this post I just got an idea for a quick experiment. What if I try to “incubate” new habits. This can be 30-day challenges and if I am able to seamlessly integrate them into my workflow then that’s awesome. If not, I can decide to try again or move on to the next challenge. I will think about what these 30 day challenges can be and will report back any ideas(:

Now back to work..