- Behavior Impact
The Importance of Tracking Habits
Improvements in your health and performance don’t happen overnight – instead, true behavior change requires continuous focus and work over a long period of time. One of the most important strategies for unlocking your performance and hitting your fitness and health targets is setting goals. According to research, goal setting is associated with a 10x increase in success. Defining clear objectives for yourself gives you a better chance at achieving your goals, and seeing the results you want from them.
When it comes to goal setting, it’s important to come up with goals that you can realistically meet, but that will still challenge you to work harder and perform at a higher level. Experts often recommend that you set both short-term and long-term goals. With short-term goals, aim for targets that can be met within six months, like prioritizing hydration, setting sleep target goals, striving to increase the length or number of your weekly workout sessions, or implementing a new stretching, weightlifting, or cardio program. Long-term goals take longer than six months to see through, such as preparing to run a marathon, increasing specific performance metrics, or improving skills like strength, endurance, or flexibility.
An essential part of meeting both short- and long-term goals is making key lifestyle adjustments along the way. After all, setting goals isn’t just about checking off a box once you’ve achieved them. It’s about making lasting changes to your daily life that will help promote overall wellness and ensure you remain at the top of your game in the long-run. Adopting new habits and keeping track of them over time will keep you accountable to your goals, and the WHOOP Journal and Weekly Plan can help you succeed.
The Benefits of Tracking Habits
Adopting new habits and keeping track of them over time will keep you accountable to your health and fitness goals, whether that’s around sleep, training, rest, or staying consistent. Whether you are in the early stages of your fitness journey or are a seasoned pro looking to switch up your routine, you can benefit from tracking habits in many ways, including:
Accountability and Planning
When you make a habit out of tracking your habits, it becomes intuitive and you are more likely to stick with your plans. For example, say you’re hoping to adopt a new habit of completing HIIT workouts twice a week. Scheduling these workout sessions twice a week and making sure they are tracked or logged reminds you to make time for this habit and reinforces the behavior.
Organize Your Goals
You get to decide which habits you will prioritize and what changes need to be made to them over time. This allows you to organize your goal setting efforts and make real progress towards meeting your health and fitness objectives.
A recent study found that “goal prioritization is effective in promoting health behavior change.” Researchers added that prioritizing health goals appears to lead to behavior change for both one and two focal behaviors, without adversely affecting the performance of non-prioritized health behaviors.
In other words, prioritizing your goals is a win-win: you’ll increase your chances of success in reaching new heights, and better health, without compromising smaller goals you’re also working towards. If you’re falling behind on a long-term goal like increasing your strength, you can adjust your habits accordingly. You can add in a new resistance training program and plan to make it more intensive every few weeks.
Progress isn’t linear and being able to refer back to your record of effort can serve as motivation for times when you feel like you haven’t been making as much progress as you would like. When you track your habits, you create a record of all of the effort you have put into meeting your goals. You can look back easily and remind yourself of what you have accomplished. For example, tracking behaviors in something like the WHOOP Journal or in Weekly Plan provides reminders and actionable recommendations throughout the week that can motivate you as you get into the swing of adjusting to a new habit.
Create Lasting Habits
Habit tracking provides you with the opportunity to analyze your existing habits and create new healthy ones. As you start to track new habits aimed at achieving certain goals, you can see if you have any current behaviors that could get in the way of those goals. For example, one of your goals might be to eat a healthy diet with habits like trying three new healthy recipes each week, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated. Existing habits that could be adjusted to support this goal include making healthy versions of your favorite takeout meals and limiting your consumption of sugary beverages in favor of water.
Improve Overall Efficiency
By tracking your habits, you’re likely to see improvements beyond the particular habits and goals you are keeping track of. Logging your fitness and health activities can get you in the habit of staying organized and seeing through your goals. You could easily find yourself more efficiently completing assignments at work and making progress in your personal life more easily as a result.
The Psychology of Habits
Habits are specific behaviors that are performed on a regular basis, and that are automatically carried out following certain learned triggers. For example, an individual might have the habit of brushing their teeth right after eating breakfast each morning.
The goal of habit formation is to engage what psychologist Daniel Kahneman deemed ‘System 1’ cognitive processes, which are carried out automatically and without a lot of conscious input. ‘System 2’ cognition, in contrast, takes longer and relies on logistical analysis and high-level consciousness. You might use System 2 cognition to come up with your health goals and a plan for developing habits to help you achieve them. Over time, as you start completing these habits again and again, you won’t have to actually think about doing them. They will become a seamless part of your life. At this point, they fall under the category of System 1 cognition.
In recent years, there has been extensive research into the psychology of habit formation and the benefits of habit tracking. In particular, researchers have examined the importance of forming and maintaining habits aimed at improving health. Studies have found that treating lifestyle adjustments like dietary changes and exercise as habits can successfully integrate these adjustments into an individual’s routine.
To take advantage of habit tracking for health goals, researchers recommend narrowing down specific objectives and then coming up with easy actions that will help you meet them that can be performed each day. Weekly Plans can help you do just that by taking the latest in Performance Science research to break down goals into a few easy to follow actions every week. In addition, experts advise specifying a time and place to complete this action each day. For example, if your goal is to improve flexibility, an easy action is to incorporate a 5-minute stretching routine into your daily schedule. Plan to perform this routine every morning in your room after you wake up.
When Will You Start to See the Benefits of Tracking Habits?
Typically, it takes a habit about 10 weeks to become an automatic part of your day. Certain habits can take longer to form, especially if they are for actions requiring more effort. Eating one piece of fruit a day is an easier habit than performing a consistently intense workout routine, as an example.
Certain habits have rewards that take much longer to experience or that are not as easy to see. Reducing your salt intake is important for optimizing blood pressure, but you won’t see an immediate result. A strength training routine and regular exercise will boost your performance, but you won’t see major improvements in the gym right away – precisely why habit tracking can be so important.
Reflecting on your habits and the progress you are making towards these goals is vital. It helps train your brain to link the habits with positive feelings and the desire to keep performing them. Tracking your daily behaviors consistently in your WHOOP Journal is a great way to achieve this. While many healthy behaviors don’t have results that can be seen right away that the brain can link to the behaviors to strengthen the habit response, you can use the practice of tracking to make that link yourself.
Track Habits with WHOOP
You can track over 100 behaviors in the WHOOP Journal and see their impact on your Recovery. For example, you can record ice baths, massage, or acupuncture, or the addition of supplements to your diet like melatonin, probiotics, or a multivitamin. WHOOP Weekly Plans lets you organize your weekly schedule and keep tabs on your habits on a regular basis, and see your progress throughout the week and get coached along the way. WHOOP will make recommendations improvements you may want to make to turn behaviors into a routine that will help you reach your goals.
Unlock insight into the benefits of your habits on your health and performance with WHOOP.