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The importance of reflection should not be underestimated, and yet how often do we take pen to paper and analyze our habits? Reflecting on why we’re doing something is equally as important as why we’re not accomplishing what we say we want.
After reading Atomic Habits I was challenged to identify my current habits and equipped with simple ways to improve them. Although my Clear Habit Journal didn’t arrive until mid-July, I fought my perfectionist mindset and worked to complete it, even though I started on July 13th.
My goal this month was simply to observe what I’m actually accomplishing, without judgment or criticism. In short, the first month is about establishing a baseline.
If you’re keeping a scorecard you will need to come up with your own criteria for “passing.” Personally, I like the Pareto Principle, so if I can complete 80% of my daily habits for 80% of the month, I consider this a success. As you can see from my Habit Tracker, I’ve got some work to do!
Once you have the raw data, you can begin to analyze what you did well and what needs more attention. Some questions you can start to ask yourself:
- Of the habits/days that were successful, why was it successful? How can you replicate the structure of that habit?
- Of those you struggled with, why were they unsuccessful? What are your obstacles and/or self-limiting fears holding you back? Do you identify with that habit (see it as the person you want to become) or have you just included it because you think that’s something you should do?
- What trends or patterns can you discern?
Reading / Personal Development (89%)
Reading and personal growth are high-value items for me so it isn’t surprising this was my highest-ranking habit. This month our summer reading group was in full swing. The three books I finished had an immediate impact on how I am thinking and taking action. In fact the first book is the reason I’m writing this now. Atomic Habits by James Clear provided simple insights into habits but also extremely practical applications for creating and improving habits. He also developed the Clear Habit Journal, of which you’ll see my tracker below.
If you’re not ready for the book but still interested in his process, check out his 30 Days to Better Habits!
The second book helped to really shine a light on the insecurities and buried fears that I (and others) struggle with on a daily basis. As a recovering perfectionist, Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection is helping me to let go of the self-judgment I continually serve myself. When I see the imperfection of my Habit Tracker, my first instinct is negative self-talk (“I’m a failure,” “What’s the point?” “I’ll never accomplish___”).
If I can look for (and find) the positive for others, why the hell haven’t I done that for myself?
Finally, Jeff Henderson’s Know What You’re FOR opened my eyes to how I approach my life (and habits), my family, and my business simply by asking two questions: 1) What are you FOR? and 2) What are you known FOR? Reviewing my habit list, I’m now asking myself if these habits are what I want to be known FOR? Is this who I want to become?
Review Rules (78%)
The greats have no off-season. As a basketball official, summer is the time to work on reviewing rules and mechanics. This has not been a strength of mine in the past, but each year I have gotten better and better. Sticking with James Clear’s guideline of a 2-minute habit enabled this high score. Upon reflection, the days I skipped were a weekend but I finished the month strong.
Do I want to be known FOR having a strong knowledge of rules and mechanics? Yes! So, this habit will stick going forward.
Morning Plans (73%)
Having a clear picture of a successful day starts the night before. The Clear Habit Journal comes with a short productivity toolkit in the back and I have adopted the Ivy Lee Method of organizing my days. Not surprisingly, the weekends were my weakends; Saturdays and Sundays are usually structured around my family and son. It will be up to me to stay disciplined during the weekends if I want to improve this score.
This has taken me awhile to get clarity on, so this habit was sporadic. Writing has always been an outlet for me yet my perfectionism hamstrings me; I will stop myself from starting because I don’t have everything figured out yet. Going forward I must adopt the 2-minute habit-forming rule to get me moving and set a specific time aside for writing.
The Clear Habit Journal also helps with starting the daily habit of journaling by asking you to write just 1 line for a given prompt (you decide). This follows a similar pattern with falling off on the weekends. I’m an early morning riser so going forward I will need to set aside 2 minutes in the morning to complete this before my workouts.
Bed By 10:30pm (63%)
Tracking this habit made me aware of how I wasn’t actually getting to bed at a reasonable hour. I am an early-morning riser (4:30 – 5am) so sleep is critical if I’m going to function effectively. I can accept not making it on some nights, especially if I have a deadline I am working with; however, sticking with the routine forces me to be more efficient with my time.
I have to be honest, out of all the habits I tracked this month this result surprised me the most. I love working out and getting my sweat on; it is one reason I became a Beachbody Coach and why I continue officiating. I would have expected this percentage to be at the top, especially since I have been following 4 Weeks of the Prep.
The biggest challenge I have now are my working hours; instead of working out during lunch I have to work out at 5am to get my workouts in. This requires me to get to bed on-time (see above) and I know if I’m not getting my sleep, I’m hitting the snooze button.
Track Nutrition (47%)
As much as I love working out, tracking macros and containers is not one of my strengths. Yes, there are apps for that. The easiest way I know how to consistently track nutrition is to create a weekly meal plan (or use one of the millions on Beachbody) and follow it every day. This requires meal prepping!
Desire Statement, AM (47%); PM (31%)
Taken from my study on Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, I have written my Desire Statement; all that is required of me is to take 30 seconds of my time and read it aloud two times a day. Clearly the mornings are stronger, yet more intention needs to be given for focusing on the person I want to become. I have printed out my statement and will include it in my journal!
Night Reflection (42%)
Like weekends, nights are a weak point either because I am falling asleep with my son or completing a meeting and heading straight to bed to make my 10:30pm goal. If we eliminate my son and family as a viable excuse, scheduling my reflections earlier in the evening may prove more successful.
Practice Speaking (36%)
Public speaking ranks high as I work to strengthen my communication skills. Usually the nights where I have completed this habit involved me giving a presentation or leading a round-table discussion. There are numerous ways for me to develop this habit; I will focus on incorporating Clear’s 2-minute rule and going Live on social more often.
Drink 60oz of Water (31%)
Tied into my health and fitness goals is water consumption. Setting aside my weakends because we already addressed that issue, a weekly reflection enabled me to find a mental trick to accomplish my goal. Breaking down the habit into smaller chunks (30 oz) and setting a time limit on it (7 hours) finally enabled me to hit the mark. What did I experience? Less fatigue, decreased appetite (less snacking), and less need for coffee.
I try hard not to let fears dictate my behavior, yet this one is blatantly obvious to me. Peopling is not a natural skill for me; I over-analyze every situation and every conversation and if you throw in my perfectionist self-criticism it’s a recipe for failure. This is where all the personal development kicks in; working on self-compassion with Brené Brown, focusing more on who I’m FOR (as opposed to myself and my fears), and using the atomic habit-building techniques of James Clear.
Every month, and ideally every day, is a new baseline… a chance to make small, corrective steps towards the person you want to become and the goals you want to accomplish. I have two general focuses:
- I have seven habits falling below 50% completion; I would like to see nothing below that.
- Strengthen my weekends!
Specifically, networking needs the most intentionality. I have gone through training and read the basics; however, I’m still curious what networking habits do you have that help you?
What are your August goals? What habits are you working to build?