Tracking my aims

Reading time: 4 mins

tldr; I set myself some aims at the start of the year and, by and large, I’ve been mostly successful at sticking to them. Yay!

I wrote a few weeks ago about some aims I had for the coming months, all of which were built from one core resolution, and I’m happy to say that it’s been going well. I’m spending a little more time writing, meditating, and exercising, and conversely have less time and inclination to spend on social media; it’s almost like I planned it that way (oh wait, I did).

I should admit that I have been gaming myself a little on this, or more specifically I’ve been tracking each activity to help build them into habits. This way I can lean on the Don’t Break the Chain thinking (often attributed to Jerry Seinfeld, yes THAT Jerry Seinfeld) and see my habits build which further re-enforces the habit itself.

To do this, because I am a geek, I’ve resorted to using apps. I have apps specific to each of the three aims I laid out, and one more to track the activity when it’s complete so I can see how I’m doing. Here’s how I’m doing it.

First things first, my eagle eyed reader (hello you!) will spot that I’ve changed the aims I originally wrote about. The thinking was to give myself some breathing room, I mean who wants to commit to doing something every single day, especially when experience dictates that ‘life’ will get in the way now and then.

Primary aim: Write in my journal most days.

I use Day One and whilst I don’t always write directly in that app (I mostly use S.Notes which syncs across web and iOS) it’s where I store my diary/journal style thoughts. It also gets any photos I post to Instagram but that’s by the by. I write as and when I find any spare time, the time I’d typically be turning to idly scroll social media.

Progress so far: Managed this almost every day, definitely been good for my mental health.

Primary goal: Meditate for 10 mins a few times a week.
I use Calm for this, in fact the 10 mins is specifically derived from the fact that the ‘Daily Calm’ is 10 mins long. I mostly use it around lunchtime during the week as it forces me to move away from my desk, with weekend usage varying around whatever plans we have.

Progress so far: Managed this almost as often as planned, not quite managed to carve out dedicated time for it, it’s still a bit hit and miss. But that’s ok, every little helps.

Primary aim: Stretch almost every day.
I use Seven for this, an app I’ve used on and off for a while. I am trying to make this a morning activity but no matter how I try I just can’t get my brain into gear, I’ve spent far too many years viewing morning as the time to get up, wash, dress, and leave the house ASAP to get to work, so despite my best efforts, this is more of an evening activity.

At present those stretches include rehab focused ones from my physio appointment which naturally gave me an added incentive to make sure I didn’t skip too many days.

Progress so far: On and off. Whilst I’m managing it almost every day, it’s not found a place in my morning routine. So I’ve adapted. The main thing is, I’m doing it more often than not.

Tracking my progress
I’ve been using an app called Streaks. It’s simple enough to use, just add an activity you want to track, set how often you want it to happen (daily, 3 times a week, on specific days, etc, there are many options), then mark each activity when it’s complete.

For example, whilst I’m trying to do stretching exercises every day, I’ve not committed to meditating every single day, but four times a week instead.

It’s a simple way to track progress, and because you can see the tracked number rise it very quickly helps to make sure you aren’t breaking the streak for any of the activities, re-enforcing the habit more and more.

Of course, as I’m a geek, and I’m already using apps to help me, I’m also using iOS Shortcut Automations to automatically mark each activity in Streaks as complete as soon as I open the relevant app (details here).

And here are the results so far.

(The Weigh and B.P. trackers are for my weekly ‘stat’ check and, as I use apps for those too (EufyLife scales, and iHealth Blood Pressure cuff) I also have automated shortcuts that log when I’ve done those).

Like I said, so far so good and whilst it’s only February it does feel like these things are sticking and the habits are building, which in turn makes me all the more determined to stay the course and keep those streaks going. That and I’m feeling the difference both physical and mentally which, after all, is the real aim here.

I won’t lie, I have had a few days where doing any of these was a struggle; writing only one sentence for my daily journal entry more than once, and limiting my stretches to a one set rather than three, that kind of thing. But I expected this to happen so it hasn’t deterred me; sometimes you need a day spent doing fuck all!

There has also been a nice knock-on effect too:

I hope you are getting on ok with any resolutions or goals (aims?) you set yourself, and if not, I hope you give yourself the ability to falter or fail. Remember, you are not the sum of your resolutions.

For me, I’m just glad that a few things have stuck, and I know this will change over the course of the year, and that’s ok too, in fact it’s half the fun.

Long time blogger, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense. Doing my best to find a balance.

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