A few months ago I spent nine glorious days vacationing in Barcelona.
I fell in love with Barcelona – and I discovered that my Fitbit has magic powers. Thank goodness, because I basically ate my way through the city!
Fortunately, I walked as much as I ate. And thanks to my Fitbit, I know exactly how much I walked each day, both in steps and in miles. By the end of the trip, I’d walked 64.5 miles! And yes, I’m marveling that I covered that much distance.
It also explained the mystery of why I could still button my pants each day ;-).
Had I been Fitbit-less, I’d still have done plenty of walking … but probably not as much. And that’s why my Fitbit is the reason I didn’t spend the end of my trip trekking around in yoga pants!
My step count was always top-of-mind.
Maximizing my steps became a game. I looked for simple ways to keep moving (like walking around while waiting to be seated for my next meal), and competed with myself to beat the prior day’s count by a few steps.
Two months back into my normal life, tracking my steps is still having an impact … almost six extra miles per week. And the best part is that those extra miles have come from small actions: a few extra minutes of warm-up before lifting weights, an extra ten minutes tacked onto my dogs’ evening walk, and walking up and down the stairs when I make coffee or boil water for tea.
And therein lies the magic of tracking: it increases your awareness of choices, and it’s your choices that create your outcomes. And that doesn’t require a Fitbit!
You can create similar magic for any change or goal you’re working towards and any habit or behavior you want to sustain.
Consistently tracking data and information is powerful because it:
- Increases your awareness;
- Keeps you connected to your daily choices;
- Helps you see patterns and trends;
- Facilitates reflection;
- Gives you actual data that you can act on;
- Makes it easier to take small steps;
- Is like a having a friend who always tells you the truth :-).
You can use tracking to reduce stress, achieve specific goals, become more organized, improve communication and relationships, get more sleep, increase your sense of balance, step through fear, take your next professional step, cultivate new habits, expand your positive impact … and anything else you can think of.
Okay, so tracking steps is easy, but how the heck do you track some of this other stuff?
Here are just two examples of how my clients used tracking to create the conditions for their success:
- Logging lights-out. Joanne was in the midst of an exceptionally intense time at work, her stress was going through the roof, and she’d developed a pattern of working into the night.
She knew sleep deprivation was making everything worse, but she was having a hard time breaking the cycle.
So she decided to track her bedtime.
Within just one day, she started making different choices throughout the day and into the evening.
And after three weeks, she was getting more sleep, which led to better focus, increased productivity, more delegation, faster decision-making, and less stress.
- Leaning in. Kathy was one of three people being considered as the next leader for her division. She REALLY wanted the promotion and had no doubt of her ability to be great in the job. But she was holding back, not wanting to seem pushy or arrogant. (She’s neither.)
We set up a “lean-in index” using a five-point scale, and she tracked how intentionally she leaned in each day. That simple act of monitoring gently pushed her out of her comfort zone, helping her advocate for herself.
The outcome? Kathy was promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations!
What goal or change are you working on? What new habit or behavior do you want to sustain?
It doesn’t matter whether you put pencil to paper, fingers to keyboard, or gold stars on a chart.
What matters is that you have a structure to increase your awareness of your day-to-day choices. And it’s your choices that create the conditions for success and happiness.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ C.G. Jung