Tracking makes it so

Everyone has different ways of effecting change in their lives and habits. Not long ago the artist David Langley was speaking at our Dreamers Club when he noted that sometimes the most important changes are effortless. Because the old was no longer serving you — or even repulsed you — in that instant, the new took hold.

Though a longer process, that’s how I changed from a long-haired lad to a balding baddie — effortlessly. Didn’t have to give it a thought! 

(Here is where Russell I-won’t-blast-out-his-last-name (harris) would snort — balding? bald! — as he did once loudly while I was still on the phone. He overheard me describing myself to someone I was to meet for the first time in a public space. Ah, good friends.) 

It’s true, when I gave up my flirtation (torrid romance) with drugs the second time in my coming-of-age years, didn’t have to think about it a bit. Disgust powers many a seamless change.

The first time there was too often a thought — Oh weed, wherefor art thou? Oh (name a drug just beyond the gateway), why you done me wrong? I loved you so———–

Effortless transformation happens in other ways. Spiritual epiphany. Striking mental insight. Curiosity. Neglect. Change of venue. Change of friends. Change of full-time institution in which you live . . . .

But for those changes that are important but heretofore not effortless, I have a favorite method: tracking it.

So many people don’t make happen what they set out to do.

A magic method is tracking your actions in your calendar.

Setting your mind to it means setting your body and time to it — you can’t do these things without soul-level commitment.

Are you committed?

The only way you can truly know is if it shows up in your schedule — in your planner, in the things you do.

I went from bloat-o to fit by tracking my time in motion each week. It was simple, it started with walking 4.5 hours a week. This then evolved into a 3 hour-a-week commitment, which included more variety and more vigorous activity.  I could do the same to become phenomenally fit (like my super siblings!), if I chose to.

But the key was keeping myself honest. You only truly know what you’re up to if you’re tracking it — until it becomes such a force in your life tracking is unnecessary (like sex in your twenties).

Many of the nuanced changes I’ve made in my life over the past decade have become powerful because I tracked my progress. I wrote over 300 pages of a book while enduring a grueling on-the-road existence. I was able to do this because I committed to 3 hours a week no matter what.

It sounds ridiculously tiny, this committment. But when you’re up at 6 am and not stopping until 8, 9 or 10 pm . . . and you have business emails and phone calls to attend to every day . . . you try it. Without tracking it is a virtual impossibility.

I did the same with exercise on the road.

I also used this method to increase time spent with my son at one point, when the intensities of business overwhelmed our time together. (Eating, putting to sleep, brushing teeth, finding his blanket, finding Puppy One, finding Puppy Two — those didn’t count.)

I still track mental-spiritual techniques, because I enjoy checking out variations on a theme. I enjoy building a new groove.

You might give this method a whirl next time a change you want to make remains elusive.

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