Roy Baumeister is a renown behavioral psychologist whose studies and experiments have revolutionized our understanding of willpower. According to Baumeister, author of Willpower, the only sure fire way to stick to a new good habit is through tracking.
In one of his many experiments, Baumeister tracked individuals who were trying to lose weight. One group tracked their daily calories, either in a journal or using some software or app, and also weighed themselves every day. The second group did not track their calories and weighed themselves once a week.
In the first group, two times as many individuals lost weight vs. the second group. The first group doubled their success in losing weight by tracking calories every day and by stepping on the scale every day.
Tracking can be applied to any new good habit.
If you journal, or use some other tracking system to detail your daily exercise activities (miles, reps, time spent, etc.), you double your chances of sticking to the exercise regimen long enough for it to become a new habit, which takes about three months.
Reading to learn every day, another Rich Habit, can be forged by simply tracking what you read and how much you read each day, which also takes about three months.
Tracking acts like an accountability partner – it forces you to confront, on a daily basis, your efforts in forging a new habit.
Once the habit is forged, the hard part is over. That habit will stick with you the rest of your life and will take great effort to undo.