Habit trackers are a bit controversial. Some people hate them, other people love them, and many people believe that they don't work or won't work for them. However, many of those (don't work/won't work) people, have never given habit trackers a valid try.
So, what exactly are habit trackers?
Habit trackers are simple data tools that allow you to keep a visual picture and an accurate representation of your habit progress. Trackers can be used to add a new habit into your life or to stop a habit. The tool allows you to see patterns and growth over time.
Habit trackers can be very motivational as you strive to complete or (fill in) the tracker tool everyday. Often times, the pursuit of filling in the tracker every-single-day, brings the discipline needed to successfully add a new habit that eventually won't need to be tracked...it will automatically be a part of your life.
As a former special education teacher, trackers were a non-negotiable part of my job. Weekly and sometimes daily data was needed in order to show a student's growth and progress in a certain skill or learning. One of my very first teaching jobs was in a high school that used general education peer tutors to assist and work on skills with the special needs students. I taught the peer tutors how to fill out data sheets (trackers) on every special student they were working with. The peers were amazed that they could see the student's growth over a school semester. Now, years later I'm still using trackers, but this time they're for myself.
There are 3 bubble trackers for each month inside the One Word One Year Faith Journey book. You decide if you want to use them or not. You can use 1 or all 3, it's up to you. Simply write in the habit you choose and start filling in the bubbles as you complete the habit each day. (The highlighter colors have no meaning-- it was whatever pen color I picked up.) ***IMPORTANT: The goal of a habit tracker is NOT perfection, but progress! As Christians, we must not fall into the trap of relying on our own strength for perfect execution rather than Christ's strength and deliverance. We're not trying to better ourselves for the sake of becoming better, more perfect people...we're instead wanting to develop spiritual habits that draw us closer and closer to our Savior. So often we forget this and fall into the thinking that 'I must do better, try harder, work more'. We will never be perfect, no matter how hard we try, but we can become more and more like Christ as we access the Spirit's power and the will of God in our life. We must continue to grow in our faith. Pray and ask God to lead you and show you what habits you should instill in your life. Listen and see what comes to your mind. I find it especially helpful to choose habits based on your chosen One Word. Last year my One Word for the year was LIGHT. I had found various light scriptures that said that the Holy Word of God (the Bible) was light. (If you need help choosing a One Word for the year, click here.) Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
I wanted God's light in my life and according to the scriptures, light is found by reading and studying the scriptures. This led me to wanting to read through the Bible chronologically. I chose to use the Bible Recap by Tara-Leigh Cobble. In order to read through the Bible in a year, I needed to read a set section every day (usually 2-3 chapters). I labeled one of the habit trackers in the One Word One Year Faith Journey book and found a sense of completion in coloring-in the bubble every day after I finished my reading. I did this for every month of the year. Every once in a while, I would miss a day and would have to catch up, but surprisingly, the tracker + my new love for the Bible + the Spirit, kept me going and I reached my goal of reading through the Bible in one year! (Side note: reading the Bible chronologically in a year is big-time life changing! If you've never done this, you are missing out! Consider adding this habit to your life. You won't regret it!) I loved that this goal was aligned with not only my One Word LIGHT, but also with God's instructions for my life...spend time in His Holy Word.
Another LIGHT scripture was John 8:12. ..."I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." and Acts 26:18 '...to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
These scriptures led me to wanting to make a habit of praying for my non-Christian friends and family. I wanted them to have eternal life after death and experience the freedom, grace and light of Christ in their life right now. I made a list of friends and family who did not know Jesus, and each day I would say their names into the Acts 26:18 salvation scripture and pray for their salvation. I needed the tracker to remind me to do this and to help me create a daily habit. Today, I'm still praying over my non-Christian list and looking for ways to share my faith with them.
Acts 26:18 scripture: Open______ eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified in Jesus.
I also added a walk and exercise tracker to keep me focused. 1/2 of the bubble represented if I went on a walk, the other 1/2 of the bubble represented if I did an exercise workout of some sort. Did this habit really go with my One Word LIGHT? Well, sort of. I always take my scripture ring on a walk with me, so walking and reading scriptures were related. I also love to talk to God while I walk. Adding exercise was something I wanted to do to take care of the body God gave me, so I added that to my tracker as well. Does God care about my health...Absolutely! You can see from the pictures above that some months my trackers included habits like reading devotionals, memorizing my scripture ring, having a consistent prayer time and not eating chocolate. I think I need a separate post on the whole chocolate problem! Stay tuned.
Now, here's another very important message about trackers...they are not designed to discourage you or shame you or make you feel defeated. If you decide to start a habit tracker and only have one bubble filled in during the entire month, that's OK! You're showing progress! You showed up once and did something that God led you to do. Way to go! There are no grades here, just a willing heart to be obedient to something the Spirit has led you to do in the first place. Pray for obedience and a wholehearted desire to want to do your faith habit more. Remember, this isn't done on our own strength and will, this is through the power of the Spirit.
Another important reminder. All of these spiritual disciplines including trackers do not earn your salvation or make God love you more. We can't rack up more points with God. God cannot love you anymore than He already does this moment. Salvation is not something we earn, it's a free gift from Jesus Christ. The reason why we practice these habits of our faith is in response to God's love for us. These practices allow us to draw nearer to Him and feel the Spirit at work in our life. They help us show love to God and others more and more.
I'd love to hear how you feel about trackers and what faith habits have you tracked?