If you’re anything like me you find yourself wondering from time to time if you are doing enough in your day to day life to make your ideals a reality.

Maybe your clothes are getting a little tight, or you haven’t been writing as much as you want to, or it’s taking forever to finish that book you’ve been reading. At times like this I find myself drawn back to using a technique I used when I wanted to cut back on drinking.

The technique is very simple.
1. Take out a sheet of paper drawn into a simple graph chart. It’s easy to create a customized version using excel. Here is a blank copy of the chart I use. Please feel free to print it out and use it.
2. List across the top in separate columns all the behaviors you want to track.
3. Down the left side of the sheet list the days of the month. Just 1-31 is sufficient.
4. For each behavior place an X if you didn’t do it that day or a check mark if you did. That’s it.

The observance itself of course affects the outcome but this is good. You end up gently steering yourself in the direction you want to go because reality is sitting there in front of you in black and white. This method also helps to create a clean internal dialogue because there is no argument. You’re either doing it or you’re not.

The first time I used this chart method it was fascinating to see how many of the things I thought I wasn’t doing very well at I was in actuality pretty on target with. Our internal critic can run rampant when there is no proof otherwise.

Going back to Benjamin Franklin, and no doubt long before that, people have tracked virtues and behaviors they wanted to cultivate and since this has been the single best tool I have used to see where I really am, as opposed to where I think I am, I thought I would share it with you.

I’m sure you’ll have no problem coming up with your own list of things to track but
here are a few ideas to consider:

Wake up at…
Play with the kids for x amount of time
Write 500 words
Eat a green salad/veggies
Exercise 30 minutes
Reach out to a friend or loved one (good for those of us who tend to be introverted)
Drink a fresh veggie juice
Read instead of watch TV
Cook dinner (instead of going out or ordering)
Organize/declutter a shelf/drawer/cabinet
Give a compliment
No alcohol
Drink 8 glasses of water
No dessert/sweets
Try a new recipe
Bring lunch to work instead of eating out

How about you? When you have something you want to cut back on or do more of, do you have a method you use to make sure that you’re following through?

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