How should progress be tracked?

Every year around this time I run into the same feeling — resistance. The point when the new year’s habits I want to establish into the coming year and beyond are no longer new and interesting and so they no longer capture my imagination like they once did. Visions of growth inspired me to establish the habit and inspires me to keep going, but growth doesn’t happen in intervals that I’m good at observing.

Growth, progress whatever it’s name what’s the best way of tracking it, especially when growth is less like a beanstalk 🌱 and more like a redwood 🌲?

redwoods in mist Some years coastal redwoods grow an inch, on a good year they grow 2-3 feetSource but considering their size I would have a hard time perceiving any sort of growth, even if it was a good year.

I need ways to make my progress tangible for me on the day’s when I’m not sure there is progress and for the days that I feel like the resistance is winning. Producing something helps whether that’s writing a blog post or baking a bread. The loaf or new page on my website is a small bud of a larger movement of growth that I can return to and say, “Yes I am growing, there is progress.”

But what about when there isn’t an obvious product? I have two habits I’m trying to work into my mornings this year. Every morning I’d like to spend some time reading my Bible and going out for a walk. Small habits that to my eyes don’t have an inherent metric of growth within them.

For me this is where bullet journalling comes in. At the beginning of this year I set up this tracker. If I read my Bible in the morning I get half a square, and if I go for a walk in the morning I get the other half. It’s not complicated, it’s not pretty, and it doesn’t remove resistance.

IMG 4657

It’s helpful, but its not a perfect tracker. It lets me see my trends and patterns as the year unfolds, but I could check every box and miss the point. My goal in going for a walk in the morning is to help me stay embodied, present, and emotionally aware and I haven’t come up with a way to track my progress in that.

And perhaps that’s for the best. There’s something ineffable in the growth of living things.

Other things to read

  • Evergreen
    🌲 A poem by D.S. Chapman
  • How I wrote in 2020
    The tools I used to write in 2020.


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