I like tracking things.
Right now I’m not talking about following animal signs in the woods, although I like doing that, too. 🙂 Instead I’m talking about tracking things like my activity/exercise, my water intake, my reading habits and my spending. Noting something down (or seeing it recorded using an activity tracker) is motivating for me. It gives me the same good feeling as checking something off a to-do list.
I’m thinking about this now because I just got a new activity tracker. When my old one was starting to fall apart I considered not replacing it, because there are also good arguments (that I’ve made to myself) for not quantifying everything in your life, but when I went a week without it I really missed it. I like seeing the trends and statistics that it gives me, and I do find that it motivates me to move more.
Tracking some things also reminds me of who I am. That probably sounds weird, but I’m thinking of how I track the books I’ve read — glancing back over the list reminds me of different subjects I’ve been interested in. And seeing the whole eclectic collection reminds me of who I am in full.
For similar reasons, I keep a file on my computer with a timeline of major things that happened each year. <Reminds self to update that for 2016…> I feel like I forget parts of myself sometimes, like things that I’ve done, if I’m not doing them right now. “Oh, right, I was in that community chorus for two years.” Things like that, and sometimes even bigger parts of my life, just slip my mind once they’re over.
So I like keeping track of things, sometimes for multiple reasons. Keeping track of money flow in and out is just practical, for example, but it also helps me to feel more relaxed about that area of my life, because I know what’s going on with it. And like having to-do lists, tracking things in an app or on my computer helps keep me on track (no pun intended) and supplements my memory — plus I like having data in which to find trends and patterns. Even if I don’t do anything further with it, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, a visual “trail” to show how much I’ve moved my body, what I’ve been reading, how I’ve been living. It reminds me of me.