Ermal Alibali

ERMAL ALIBALI

Rediscovering Spontaneity: Why I Stopped Tracking My Habits

In recent years, habit tracking has become an increasingly popular trend, with apps, specialized journals, and techniques aimed at monitoring every aspect of our daily lives. The idea behind this approach is that constant monitoring of habits can lead to a more organized, productive, and satisfying life.

However, after personally experimenting with this practice, I decided to stop tracking most of my habits. This article explores my journey, highlighting the negative aspects of this method.

 

The Beginning of the Journey: The Hope for a Better Life

Like many others, I was drawn to the idea of tracking my habits in the hope of improving various aspects of my life and abandoning vices that worsened it. I started using several apps to monitor my physical activity, diet, sleep, and even the time spent reading and watching TV series.

At first, everything seemed to be going well: I felt more organized and motivated to stick to my daily routines by tracking the results achieved each day. 

 

The Trap of Perfection

However, over time, I began to notice some negative effects. One of the most glaring examples concerns my approach to daily tracking of vices and new habits to implement. A simple example is increasing free time and dedicating it to watching a series to relax and watching an episode used to be a moment of relaxation and pleasure after a long day at work. 

But once I started tracking how many episodes I watched, my perception changed. Watching an episode became a task to complete rather than a pleasant activity. I felt compelled to adhere to a certain number of episodes per week, turning a leisure moment into a source of stress.

 

Performance Anxiety

This type of anxiety wasn’t limited to watching Netflix or Prime Video series. Monitoring every aspect of my daily life created a kind of constant performance anxiety. I felt I always had to improve, to do more, and never allowed myself to “fail” in adhering to my tracked habits. This led to increased stress and general discomfort, in stark contrast to the initial goal of living a more satisfying and relaxed life.

 

The Loss of Spontaneity

Another negative effect of tracking habits was the loss of spontaneity. I felt that every moment of my day had to be planned and monitored, leaving little room for spontaneous decisions or impromptu activities. This rigidity made my life less flexible and more monotonous, reducing my ability to enjoy the present moment.

 

The Search for Balance

After experiencing these negative effects, I decided to stop tracking my habits and seek a new balance. I realized that while habit tracking can have benefits, it’s important not to overdo it and maintain some flexibility. I learned to focus more on the quality of my experiences rather than the quantity and to allow myself to be less rigid with myself. 

I found the best solution in tracking the progress of specific projects that tend to improve my lifestyle in the long term, rather than daily habits. This improved my organization on a longer-term scale and helped me avoid tracking everything, especially activities that can easily go untracked.

 

A More Sustainable Approach

Take, for example, one of the habits most people want to improve: reading more. If you aim to read a specific number of pages per day, you might find yourself on some days just staring at the pages while your mind is elsewhere, ending up re-reading the same 10, 20, or 30 pages the next day. Improvement fails, and the process becomes pure stress. Set yourself the goal of opening the book and reading, without the obligation to reach a set number of pages. 

Opening a book should be a moment you dedicate to yourself to improve; it’s up to you whether to spend the time on one page or fifty. At the end of the week, note down what page you’re on out of pure curiosity about how much you’ve read that week, and if you’re determined, aim to gradually improve your reading over the weeks or months.

 

Benefits of Not Tracking Habits

Stopping the tracking of my daily or short-term habits has brought me several benefits. I feel less stressed and more relaxed, with a greater ability to enjoy the present moment. My life has become more spontaneous and less rigid, allowing me to make freer choices and follow my instincts. Additionally, I have developed greater self-acceptance and understanding of my limits, learning to see failure as part of the growth process rather than an obstacle.

 

Rediscovering the Pleasure of Small Things

Abandoning habit tracking has also allowed me to rediscover the pleasure of small things. Previously, every activity was framed within the context of self-improvement and personal growth, losing its intrinsic value. Now, I can appreciate a walk in the park, a dinner with friends, or an evening of reading without feeling the pressure to document every moment.

 

Tips for a Balanced Approach

  • Limit Tracking: Use tracking apps only for a few crucial or long-term habits, avoiding monitoring every single aspect of your life.
  • Focus on Quality, Not Quantity: Evaluate experiences based on quality rather than the quantity of activities completed.
  • Allow Yourself to Be Flexible: Accept that not every day will be perfect, and that’s okay. Flexibility can lead to greater personal satisfaction.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable goals that do not generate performance anxiety.
  • Take Time for Yourself: Dedicate time to activities you love without feeling the need to monitor or justify them.

Recommended Reading

To delve deeper into the topic and find further insights, I recommend the following books:

 

Conclusion

Tracking your habits can be useful for many people, especially those looking to establish new routines or improve their organization. However, it’s important to recognize the potential negative effects of this practice and find a balance that allows you to enjoy life without feeling constantly under pressure. My experience has taught me that sometimes letting go of control and embracing spontaneity can lead to a more fulfilling life, without forgetting or underestimating long-term goals.

 

Stay focused, not stressed!

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