I used to be a big believer in setting SMART goals—the specific, measurable, actionable kind. (e.g., decrease my mile time from 9:30 to 9:10 by July 1, 2016.)
But a few years ago I made a startling discovery. After that I mostly quit making SMART goals, and instead began tracking my participation in certain areas—health, fitness, writing, reading. I committed to take certain steps every day, with zero regard for the results.
I found that when I began simply tracking these activities—holding myself accountable to doing these small and medium tasks everyday—the results took care of themselves. And I enjoyed the process so much more.
Now when I set goals, I focus on the process (which I can control), not the outcome (which I can’t).
This has been on my mind lately because one of my big-picture goals for 2016—or rather, one of the things I’m NOT doing this year—is to NOT blow off the things I know are good for me.
My body has been creaky and complainy lately (long story) and the list of things I know are good for me has gotten pretty long. Get my daily 10,000 steps. Do my stretches. Eat my veggies. Take my vitamins. Drink my supplement. Take a reading break. Turn the lights out at 10:00 p.m. And more.
These punch list items aren’t arduous or complicated, but there are a lot of them—too many for me to easily keep track of—and I’ve been continually running through a long checklist in my head, making sure I’m not forgetting anything, making sure I’m getting it done. If they were deeply ingrained habits, this would be a cinch—but they’re not, not yet.
The self-care process is taking up a lot of mental space (and I know I’m vulnerable to decision fatigue).
So here’s what I’m doing: I’m revisiting the method that worked so well for me a few years ago. I reloaded the Commit app on my phone, and plugged in all the tiny little tasks I need to do every day, and told the app when to remind me to do them. (This app is a nice combination of my home-cooked productivity tracker and Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret, plus push notifications and a nifty chart that shows you how long your successful streak is.)
Have I accomplished anything yet? Not really. I have nothing to show for my efforts except a little less storage space on my phone.
And yet I finally feel like I’m ready to do this thing that’s so important to me this year: To NOT blow off my health, just because I’m not paying attention.
How do YOU stay on top of the things that are too small to hit your to-do list put too important to forget?
P.S. Not an app person? Try this analog tracker instead.