5 ways tracking progress helps you reach your goals

How many steps a day do you take? How many minutes of heart-pumping exercise do you get each week? How many hours do you spend sitting?

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have answers to these questions. You likely don’t regularly keep track of your daily steps, weekly exercise, or seated time. And that’s totally fine—tracking can be a lot of work.

But what if you did? What would you learn? What changes might you see in your behaviour?

The Power of Tracking

Tracking is a powerful tool for increasing how much you move each day. Research shows that people who track their progress are far more likely to reach their goals. Here are just a few reasons why:

1. The Mere-Measurement Effect – just measuring your activity can push you to move more. When you keep track of how much you spend on food, you dine out less. When you watch how many glasses of water you drink each week, you drink more. It’s human nature. By merely measuring your activity, you should see an improvement.

2. Establishes a Baseline – tracking helps you figure out where you’re currently at, which is the first step in figuring out whether you’re making progress. It can also help you set a realistic goal. If you’re currently only getting 2,500 steps a day, setting a target of 5,000 makes a lot more sense than 10,000. (Go here to learn more about setting good goals.)

3. Reminds You of Progress – once you’ve figured out your baseline, keeping track will help you measure your improvement. This is crucial because celebrating your wins, even the small ones, is a big part of keeping your confidence and motivation high. Tracking gives you something to celebrate and pushes you to keep progressing toward your goal.

4. Identifies Problems – people who track know immediately when they’ve stopped making progress. This helps because it allows you to course-correct. You can figure what went wrong and why. 

5. Focuses Your Attention – people who track stay on track because they’re paying attention to their behaviour. You’ll notice that tracking is a bit of chore at first, but that’s kind of the point. It forces you to pay attention to the behaviour you’re trying to change. It keeps it at the top of your mind and doesn’t allow you to push it down your list of priorities. Of course, over time, tracking consistently does get easier, and soon you’ll be spending less time thinking about it and more time just doing it.

A Roadmap to Success

Just like a map, tracking helps you figure out where you are and allows you to plot a course to where you want to be. This quick video explains it all:

How to Track

When it comes to keeping track of your activity, there are a lot of good options.

You can use a wearable tracker or an app on your smartphone, or you can keep it simple with a calendar, journal, day planner, whiteboard, or whatever you’ve got. The key here is frequency. The more often you track, the better, so use whatever is most convenient for you and that works with your specific goal. 

If you don’t already regularly track somewhere, a great option is this handy Movement Log we’ve created. Download it now and use it to track your progress, identify challenges, and celebrate victories!

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Staying on Track with Tracking

There’s no doubt that keeping track of your progress will take time and effort at first. It’s one more habit to get into. But the benefits of tracking are huge.  

Tracking helps you stay focused on what’s important to reaching your goal. It helps you identify potential obstacles and strategies for how to overcome them. It can help you set more realistic goals and stay positive along the way.

So, download the log and start writing down your progress. Put it in your calendar, or journal, or in a chart. Whatever you need to do. Just write it down.

Because once you start seeing progress, it starts to get easier. Your progress becomes visible. Your confidence grows. You see that what you’re doing is working and feel more motivated to keep going.

People who track stay on track. Make sure you’re one of them.