Being boring, predictable, and consistent might not be your definition of being persistent, however think again.
Habit tracking is the single most effective way of ensuring you are being true to yourself, your business, your work schedule, your life and your discipline.
In my opinion and experience, this is the biggest reason why most people fail at whatever activity they want to succeed in.
Do you really want to keep track of EVERYTHING...is it REALLY needed? I mean, after all, whose really going to be counting if I take just one small tiny morsel of a bite into that chocolate cake. Whose really going to be able to tell if I skimmed off the top of my tax account and put the money back in when I had it? The latter here is really not a good practice, just saying. Set your taxes aside right away, and get used to it.
Who you is counting you ask? Besides the IRS, it's YOU! You are! Remember, the goal isn't to win with the perfect daily routine tomorrow, it's to still be winning your daily routine in 50 years time. Expand your time horizon sufficiently and realize every step compounds. Listen to Chris Williamson talk about this with Ryan Holiday, of The Daily Stoic, talk about this concept and many others here. It's a video I've gone back to a few times now, so many good takeaways.
In my experience, yes. And here's why, when you make things quantifiable you create the skeleton for a framework that is trackable, updatable, repeatable and most of all, scalable. It's the reason the scientific method works after all.
RISKING IT ALL OR BALKING IT ALL
Risk aversion is the number one reason why most people never even start something. It was the number one reason I didn't. I thought I needed to have all the answers before I started my business. I thought I needed to have everything in place to be a business before I went into the full time freelancing world. But the truth is I spent the first year as just a freelancer, not as a "formal business" - I did not have the LLC for Chicken or The Egg Photography until December of my first full year in "business." I had myself, and a vague idea of what I wanted to do, and wouldn't you know I made just under, if I had just made $500 or so more it would've been as much as I did my first year in business as I did working a full time job. I busted my ass for a year and learned and gained and became; wash, rinse, repeat.
Most people aren't scared of failing, they're scared of what if it DOES work! They're fearful that if it does work, THEN what?
I'll tell you what THEN...you find a way to reach the next mountain top, and the next mountain top. You 1.5-2x, for 5 years and before you know it, you're making 2x, 4x, 8x, 10x, 16x, etc. Those $250 jobs at 8x become $2000 jobs, and that is perfectly attainable in 2 years if you've put in the work. So you're likely working far less in terms of clients, for far more output from a few clients. Do you get the point? The mountain top can only go so high, but by that point you may want to shift gears anyways. I hope you do. If you keep doing what you did when you first started that a scary thought.
Think about it like this, if the climb up the mountain isn't something you want to do, and you're just going along with the crowd because, then imagine the anti-climactic view when you get there. Here's another great video from Steven Bartlett's Diary of a CEO for some real takeaways, featuring Codie Sanchez.
BE FLEXIBLE, BUT DON'T BE A NOODLE MAN IN THE WIND
"But I don't want to." Then don't complain when you don't make progress or worse, you don't get paid. It's that simple.
You are the creator and the receiver. I know many times it doesn't feel like that. Suffering is life, but we live in a society which breeds a culture of anti-suffering, a culture of comfort, a culture of security almost disgustingly in my opinion, for whatever it's worth. I've seen many people value hard work when the sweat equity is from someone else's back and they get the benefit.
There's nothing wrong with any of those things until they become the crux that holds you back.
I remember at my last job I'd struggle because I didn't understand the context of the project or I'd get what I perceived as mixed signals of the final vision. Despite having a meeting, taking bunch of notes and scribbles and white boards with hoards of information understanding what I thought was the final visions, many times it was just part of the vision. Many times I was told "Alright that's all we have, go, get it done." At some point I started to get frustrated by this and I told my bosses constantly "When do you start building the house? As soon as you have it finished." That proposed rebuttal never went over well. Now today, I know and realize I like details. I'm not as free flowing as I thought I was, and I like to be part of things when it makes sense, not if I feel like a a third party. I need to know what to photograph otherwise you're going to get a bunch of things you may not want, and then you can't get upset when I send you invoice and it's not what you wanted.
It turns out, many times my bosses didn't know the full vision either, they knew snippets, enough to be dangerous yet make progress on the project, and many times the full vision was 3, 6, 9, maybe even 12 months out so things and timelines change. I also realized, while I am a long term mindset with my own business and life, planning long term is a very different ball game. Staying focused long term is HARD, and my attention span is that of a gnat comparatively. Life and business goals are both compound interest. Simplistically, it's the Warren Buffet way to becoming a billionaire. The most unsexy way to do it, but the most trusted way to do it.
Moreover I realized in no short order that I was the problem more often than not, and that for the problem to be solved, I had to have a different mindset. I had to be proactive and positive and engaging. The last year to six months to a year of my working there was probably the most enjoyment I had in a long time, and I'm fairly confident everyone got that sense. Beyond knowing I was leaving, I had begun preparing myself on the daily basis almost like I was working for myself. I started seeing challenges not problems (an ode to my dad), solutions not impossibles (another ode to my dad) and deadlines as end goals not just dates that were on a calendar that could move. Be flexible, but don't be a noodle-man in the wind.
I started to consider how my clients would react if they knew I had a toxic mentality about their project. They certainly wouldn't want to work with me, that I can guarantee you. If I didn't want to deal with me, why would anyone else want to deal with me???
PMA ISN'T JUST ABOUT POSITIVITY
"PMA" stands for Positive Mental Attitude. Something I began to embrace after watching an episode of "Sonic Highways" and listening to the singer of Bad Brains talk about punk music, being black in punk music in the 80s in one of the most vicious and violent cities at the time, Washington, D.C.
As I began to apply to business it became more apparent there was another couple meanings, "Productive Mental Attitude" and "Proactive Mental Attitude". It's the old adage, "smarter not harder."
It's why I've kept coming back to habit tracking. Hustle culture is a toxic mindset when done wrong. It can be overbearing and create constant burnout. Single solo-minded hustle culture in a world of AI, automation, and virtual assistants is an old school way of thinking. Peddling cyber drugs and providing hits of dopamine via social media and apps is losing its touch. People are getting tired of being pushed to the brink of their limits having to keep eyes on everything just to survive. This is where I ask, do you really need TikTok, Facebook, IG, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, etc. No. Focus on those which enhance your platform and reach. Back to the point at hand...
Hence, habit tracking for the win. Whatever you want to do is just going to be a stimulus response to a desire dopamine hit. Rather wait 10 minutes and see if you still want to do it.
I can give you a 99% guarantee you will have forgotten about whatever it is you wanted to do 10 minutes ago.
But as Todd Snider says in his song Statistician's Blues:
"They say sixty-five percent of all statistics
Are made up right there on the spot
Eighty-two-point-four percent of people believe 'em
Whether they're accurate statistics or not"
Habit tracking is going to be a pain, it's going to be an activity you probably don't want to do. But if you keep at it you'll be 2x, 4x, 8x, 10x better by the end of the experiment.
What motivates you in the end is what will give you the impetus to track. For me at the current moment it's money, as I see money as the tool that will help get me things that will get me to places I want to be at in five years time. So what did I do? I set aside envelopes wherein I put a dollar in a day for every day I work out and brush my teeth. My justification is I can see the benefit of the activity in a physical way more than just a mental way. I know it's my money, so I'm not "making money" or "saving money" but what I am doing is setting aside next month's payment for the gym, and the dental bill in 6 months. I know though, in five years time it may change to tracking my habits won't be about setting money aside. Maybe it will be so that I have another hour of time with loved ones, or being able to take adventures on a monthly basis, or being able to confidently say and know that I can work a "4 hour work day" and still have had a productive work day.
What is it for you that's going to motivate you? Think about it, then start habit tracking!
Peace, Love, Photography my fellow Chickens