How to Form a Habit, Free Habit Tracker & Good Habits to Have
Habits. They are the things that we repeatedly do. There are good habits, bad habits, and habits that you don’t even think about anymore, like brushing your teeth, they are automatic.
In this post, we’ll cover taking a good action that you want or need and turn that into a habit. This positive action could be exercise, healthy eating, or waking up at 5 am. These are the habits that are not subconscious yet, but you want to work to get there.
If you want to start or are currently working on creating good habits and want a way to track your habits, you’re in the right place! Learn how to form a habit, examples of good habits, and how to track habits in a habit tracker.
How to Form a Habit
If you want to learn more about the science behind forming habits, make sure to read the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg or Atomic Habits by James Clear. They are each great and go into considerable depth on the subject of habits and how to form a habit.
Here is a quick summary of each.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Summary
A cue is a trigger that causes you to do that habit.
A routine is something that you continually do.
A reward works to cement in your mind that this habit is a good thing, and you should continually do.
“Habit is a formula our brain automatically follows. When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get REWARD.”
This book teaches that if you want to start a new habit, you need a cue that triggers a routine, and you look forward to receiving the reward.
You could also use this method to change bad habits to good habits. Replace the routine with the positive habit you want to achieve. You must also have a strong reward that motivates you to change that habit, and you also must believe that you can change that negative routine.
Atomic Habits by James Clear Summary
Here James adds craving and swaps the word routine for a response. So the pattern is cue, craving, response, and reward. He explains that the habit is centered on the reward itself.
A cue is the note sent to your conscious that there is a reward to be had.
A craving is the motivation to change in order to get that reward.
A response is an action you’ll take in order to get that reward.
A reward is a positive reinforcement you get from completing the action, aka habit.
Also, if you want to change your behavior, the patterns must be obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.
And use a habit tracker to note when you complete the desired good habit every day. The habit tracker suggestion from this book is one that I use consistently. I have seen the benefits in this form of tracking so much that I want to share one with you. Download the same template I use for free below!
How Long Does it Take to Form a Habit
How long it takes to form a habit changes from person to person and from habit to habit. There is considerable variation, and there is no one set number of days you can expect.
In my research, I found a study from the European Journal of Social Psychology that it can range from18 to 254 days to form a new habit.
Just know it won’t be quick, and you truly have to have the desire and dedication to form this new good habit.
If you are dedicated to making a positive difference and need a method to stay consistent with your habits, then tracking them will help keep you accountable. A habit tracker will make it easy for you to keep track, be consistent, and keep your good habits top of mind.
Now, this sounds official, a habit tracker. Do you need a new habit to track all your habits? Haha, well, kind of. I recently reviewed with a team member that I need to make an SOP on how to make SOPs. Is it a must? No, but it does make the process easier.
There are a couple of ways that you can track your habits. I’ll show you how I track my habits that don’t involve buying anything. Well, it might cost 10 cents if you don’t have a printer at home.
What is a Habit Tracker
A habit tracker is just as the name suggests. It’s a way to track your habits. In essence, it’s very simple, and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
There are habit journals, books, and other items you can buy to help you keep track of your habits but I opted for the easy free method for now because I am at home and I like to keep my habit tracker on my fridge, front and center where I see it every day.
Why Track Your Habits
The goal of a habit tracker is for consistency, positive reinforcement, it also provides data over the months. If you are serious about ingraining this new habit into your daily life and you know if you stick with it, it will make a huge difference in your life, then track your habits!
There are many good habits that I would like to do, like cutting out sugar or maybe removing unnecessary TV watching, but for me, those are not going to make or break the momentum in my life. I am dedicated to life-changing good habits, and those are the ones that I track.
Also, there are so many habits that I could track, but once I have a habit that I execute daily without needing reinforcement, I no longer have to add it to my tracking sheet.
For example, I don’t track writing my goals daily because I already do that. I’ve been writing my goals every day for about four years now. I don’t track journaling every morning or writing what I am grateful for because I already do that daily.
You need to track the habits that you need to work on. They are the ones that you have trouble doing daily.
If you want to know the habits I track, skip to the section The Good Habits I Track.
Track Your Habits for a Reminder
When you have a habit tracker in a visible place, you remind yourself every time you look at the habit tracker. I have my habit tracker on my fridge. I probably see it more than 10 times a day, so each time, it reinforces the habits and my determination to check every box.
If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and the more likely you’ll forget to complete the habit for the day or check it off. This is why I recommend starting simple and using a printable for now. I’ve created one for you below, for free, that you can download and start using today!
Track Your Habits for Motivation
When you check off a day, you can’t help but feel happy. Whenever I highlight my little square for the day for each habit, I feel excited and motivated, and it adds to the positive reinforcement cycle.
You want a continuous cycle of positivity, momentum, and executing daily your good habits. Tracking your habits daily will help you with this. It keeps them top of mind, and when you miss a day, you immediately know you can do better.
How to Track Your Habits
There are now many journals you can purchase to track your habits. They are very nice habit tracking journals, and I would recommend you get one after you’ve been tracking your habits for a couple of months and know you use the journal you purchase.
Also, if you’re traveling, it might be useful to purchase these journals, so you have it in one place, instead of a bunch of loose papers.
I use a simple habit tracker that I’ve created.
Habit Tracker Template
Here is a free habit tracker that you can download and use to start tracking your habits. I designed it, keeping all of the things I wanted in a tracker in mind. Overall it’s very simple and easy to use.
This monthly habit tracker printable is a blank template where you can write your dates and month. This is if you want to get a little creative and use different colors for each habit or month. I use a highlighter to fill in each box when I complete the habit for the day. I track both Peter’s and my habits in the month tracker so I use different highlighter colors for each of us.
I hope you love this monthly habit tracker printable! Please share it with someone you know will benefit from your friend, coworker, or sister.
The Good Habits I Track
Now that you know how to form a habit, how long it takes to form a habit, and what a habit tracker is, I’ll dive into the good habits I track.
Reminder, I only actively track the habits that are new or habits I haven’t stuck to and need a little reminder to continue. I don’t add to my habit tracker things that I already do on a day to day basis and don’t need reminders, like drinking plenty of water, journaling, writing my goals, etc.
I track the general term of “Fitness.” Sometimes I do yoga, sometimes I run or trail run, and sometimes I do strength workouts. If your primary form of fitness is running, then you can track “Running” as a habit.
No matter how much fun I have with fitness, it’s still something I need the motivation to do. It’s difficult for me to just want to workout, and if I had the option, I wouldn’t, so I track it.
Another little trick that I use to make sure I workout consistently is that I participate in fitness challenges. We have a consequence if we don’t work out regularly.
Reading 1 Hour a Day
If you love reading personal development books, you’ve probably read something from Brian Tracy. I’ve listened to many of his audio training and read plenty of books, and one thing he always emphasizes is reading for at least 1 hour a day.
In the beginning, it can seem like a lot, and if you have a packed day, it can feel like you have to find time for it. I have a stack of books I want to read, and schedule it in the morning and if needed complete the hour at the end of the day. I have always tried to read every day, but it’s more like 30 or 40 mins, so an hour is one thing I am trying to turn into an easy daily action.
Depending on when you are reading this, if COVID is still happening or it’s post-COVID time, staying positive was getting a little difficult for me. The end of March and April 2020 was the hardest times for me mentally, and staying positive took so much effort.
One day I set a fitness goal and decided it was time to pick myself up from the floor and BE POSITIVE. So I added it to my habit tracker.
I need to be very truthful with myself, and Peter is also a good sounding board. 🙂 It changed my attitude, I feel so much happier, and things dramatically changed for us. Positivity does make the biggest impact in your day and life.
Wake Up At 5 am
Love it or hate it; you get so much accomplished when waking up at 5 am. I wrote an entire post about waking up at 5 am and why I continue to do it. Make sure to read that post if you need some tips on how to wake up early.
Dinner Before 7 pm
Some habits are the kick-off to other habits. If you do this one thing, it will help or hinder what comes next. Eating dinner is one of those habits for me. By eating dinner early, I’ll sleep better, and therefore it’ll be more likely to wake up at 5 am.
This is the same for 5 am habit. If I don’t wake up early, I don’t get to read, write, work out, or journal. So I have to wake up early if I want to accomplish all of those things that make me feel fantastic in a day. Having good time management gets more important as you try to stack habits in a day.
Other Good Habit Ideas
Here are some other ideas on other good habits to track. They are both small and large commitments, depending on where you are on this journey select the ones that are appropriate for you.
- Eat Healthy
- Practice Gratitude
- Save Money
- Make Your Bed Every Morning
- Meditate Daily
- Journal Daily
- Call Family
- Take a Daily Walk
- Sleep at least 7 hours Daily
- Floss Daily
- Cut out or Down on Alcohol
- Remove Artificial Sugar From Your Diet
- Limit Caffeine
- Write Your Goals Daily
- Arrive Early
- Don’t Procrastinate
What Habits Are You Tracking?
Do you track your habits?
What are some good habits that you want to start tracking?
Let me know in the comments!