Hello everybody, welcome to Episode 15 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take the life related questions you have to get them answered on the show.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino, and today you’re going to find out a little more about this guy as we have a question that is geared towards me specifically and my personal habits. So we’ll talk a little about them as well as some universal themes with regard to habits. Okay? Now without further ado, let’s have a look…
QUESTION: “Hi Greg! What are the things you track on a daily basis? That could be exercise, a morning routine, what food you eat, how much water you drink. I’m just curious to know the things that you track and how you find that they help you. Also, what do you think would be tracking too much in your life whether it's to do with health or different things like money?”
Some of the Habits I Track
Right. So I think to kick off my answer here, I just want to say that it’s important to realize that the habits I track are unique to me and the habits anyone tracks should be unique to them.
This answer will not be about me telling you what to spend your life doing. There are common themes if you will but I’ll get to that in a second.
First of all, some of the things I track:
- I track how many times I meditate
- What time I go to bed
- What time I turn my phone off at night
- How much I read
- How much time I spend outside
The common theme running here is that these are all things that I’m trying to add into my life, but I know I’m susceptible to slip on. These are things I want to do a certain amount because I believe they’re beneficial to me.
Why Do I Track these Habits?
I’m a big believer in meditation and I find it most useful when I do it right when I wake up. But I know I can make excuses around that if I’m too sleepy or if I have to rush out. It’s not something I’ve always done and I don’t feel confident enough yet to not bother keeping track of it.
I know I’m naturally a night owl, but I like being productive during normal work hours so I really try to be in bed by a certain time. I know scrolling on my phone before bed is bad. Bad for my eyes and bad for my brain not only cause it disrupts sleep, but let's be honest: most of the time I spend on my phone is completely useless.
Reading is very important to me and I read a lot of books and articles that better equip me to answer your questions, but I’m not naturally a reader. I didn’t read much growing up besides the Matt Christopher sports books. Aside from them I went for movies, so I know reading for me requires a little push even though I really enjoy all the material I read nowadays.
Fresh air is huge for me. I think it’s so important to be outside as much as possible, but that can be easy to forget when I’m busy working and this time of year when the weather is cold. So these are all things that I want to prioritize but I feel require some maintenance.
I also track bad habits for the same reason. If there are things I want to stop doing and want to rid myself of, I keep track of how much I do them because, again, they’re naturally ingrained in me and stopping them requires a little push. I don’t track bad habits I don’t normally partake in, but that’s because not doing them is second nature to me.
Some Habits that I Don't Track
Examples of things I do not track:
- Water intake
- Protein intake
- Calorie intake
- Sleep time
- Brushing teeth
- All kinds of other things
This is because these are areas I’m very confident in and don’t feel I need to tweak further.
Going to the gym was a new year’s resolution in 2007, and I’ve always played hockey and soccer since I was little. No need to track these things; I don’t have to think before doing them.
Water, I drink enough of. I also think that keeping track of something as minuscule as ounces sounds like a horrible way to spend my time.
Protein, again, comes naturally to me because my diet is pretty well intact and I know what I need to recover from exercise. Calories, sorta the same thing plus counting calories sounds equally as obnoxious as counting ounces of water. And who knows how many calories I eat at a restaurant? It’s a lost cause in my book.
Brushing teeth, yeah been doing that one since I was a kid (as I hope you all have) and it just happens naturally.
Sleep time, I’ve always been a big 8 hours guy since high school and though I could probably use more, 8 is good and something I’ve always stuck by. Happens on its own.
I essentially give myself monthly quotas that I try to hit for the things I need to pay attention to, and I disregard the things I’m content with. For good habits, I usually up the quotas or keep them steady. For bad habits, I usually lower the quotas or keep them steady for when I feel like being a bad boy.
What Do You Want or Need to Prioritize?
So to me, habit tracking is dependent on that which someone needs or wants to prioritize.
You asked about what I’d perceive as tracking too much, and to me, that definitely falls under the category of things that you’re naturally satisfied with or don’t realistically need any work. It’s up to you to know your line on this, but it’s very easy to get neurotic from too much tracking.
And this is where I go off on a little bit of a tangent…
Self-Improvement Can Become an Addiction
It’s right in this space that I urge all people interested in self-development to be careful. It is very easy to establish an unhealthy addiction to improving upon things, and that can happen by tracking everything, including things you don’t need to. Not everything in life needs to improve or needs to be paid extra attention to.
Focus on caring about the few areas that mean a lot to you to improve. Don’t be afraid to let other things be. Constant focus on improving everything leaves you satisfied with nothing and it certainly takes the fun out of everything.
Whether it be stupid little automatic habits like brushing your teeth, or strategies to go from making a million dollars this year to two million dollars, the constant reliance on self-improvement easily leads us into insatiability and further pocket-lining for the people speaking at these seminars about why your life isn’t good enough and how it could be better.
Pick and choose that which is really important to you and focus on those things. Tracking habits is great way of staying on track. It forces you to pay attention and enables you to view progress, set goals and ultimately view your progress which is a great way of staying energized enough to keep making progress.
You only have enough mental space to spend this kind of attention on a handful of things, so stay cognizant of what does and doesn’t need to change in your life, draw lines in the sand if you can as to where you’d like the things worth changing to be at, and do your best stay mindful of that line so you maintain gratitude and not always be looking to make life better.
Wanting to track everything and make everything better is one of the biggest struggles you can put yourself through.
Tangent over. Episode over. This was a fun one, definitely a different vibe than episodes past and we love a little variety here on the show so thank you for sending that one in.
Anyone else who would like to have the questions answered on the show, whether they pertain to specific personal struggles or just questions about self-growth in general, you can email them to email@example.com
You’re all welcome to submit questions so please don’t be shy. One final note regarding habit tracking: the book I mentioned in Episode 1 called Atomic Habits speaks a lot about the specifics of tracking habits so those who want to know more, I’d highly recommend checking that one out if you haven’t already.