We all have a general idea of the changes we would like to make in our lives, and each year, we set goals accordingly. However, unless we hold ourselves accountable by tracking our daily habits, it’s easy to become complacent without even realizing it. By writing down what we do on paper (or in an app), it’s easier for us to see where we tend to go wrong and harder for us to ignore the times we slip up. If you want to see big changes in your life, start by tracking these four areas of your life.
Research shows that when we use debit and credit cards instead of cash, spending money is less painful. We tend to spend more, and we value the things we bought less.
Although switching back to cash could help you address over-spending, that approach may not be practical for you. Fortunately, several smartphone apps, such as Mint, PocketGuard, and You Need a Budget, can help you set a budget and track your spending habits. Some banks and credit card companies even provide a spending analyzer on their website so you can see how you are allocating your money.
The importance of a good night’s sleep is not a novel concept, and you may already be aware that keeping a regular schedule can help you sleep better. Before fitness trackers and smartphones, tracking your sleep patterns with consistency and precision would have been almost impossible. Now, there are several apps and devices that can map out your sleep patterns and offer insight into how much sleep you’re getting, the quality of your sleep, and what you can do to improve.
If you’re angling for a raise or a promotion, nothing will help your case more than numbers and concrete data. Whether you go the pen-and-paper route, set up a spreadsheet on your computer, or download an app to keep track of assignments, tracking your work performance is a good first step. Take the time to record the tasks or instructions assigned to you, the steps you take to complete them, and how the end product compares to the goals you set. Then when you approach your boss, you’ll have the data you need to make your case.
Health and Fitness
Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply stay in shape, one of the best ways to stay on track is to keep a food journal and exercise log. These days, all you need to track your health is a smartphone and the right app. You can then use your phone to count calories. Wearable fitness devices, such as the Fitbit or Apple Watch, can even track your heart rate, steps, and level of activity without logging anything manually.
When it comes to making positive lifestyle changes, good intentions only get you so far. It’s much easier to make excuses. This year, hold yourself accountable by writing down your goals and tracking your progress towards them. Your future self will thank you.