Pole Goals 101: Tracking Your Goals

Hey friends, and welcome once again to Pole Goals 101! Today, we’re going to be talking all about tracking, logging, and journaling.

If you haven’t caught up with the previous posts in this series, check them out here:

So, let’s get to it!


Tracking For Success

Hands down, tracking has to be one of the best ways you can make sure you’re making progress towards your goals.

children pointing at a laptop screen and cheering

There’s tons of research out there that supports that people who track their goals are far more likely to achieve them. While researchers don’t know exactly why the simple task of tracking does this, as each individual is unique with different motivations, there’s a couple of reasons why tracking your habits and goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them:

1. Baseline Establishment

As you start logging relevant information – like, for instance, how many pole classes you’ve done each week – you’re establishing a solid starting point against which you can monitor your progress.

It can also help to physically show you whether your goals are realistic for you, as we can often have a different idea in our heads of our regular routines than we see when we write down what we do.

2. Progress Reminders

I actually started my pole dance Instagram (@quartzofrose, shameless self plug) as a means of tracking my progress, because at the time I was convinced I wasn’t actually making any progress, despite going to pole at least once a week for four months.

Having that reminder of how far I’d come was, and still is, one of the most motivational tracking methods that I use – because when I doubt the progress that I’ve made and feel like I’ve stalled, I can look back and remind myself of all the hard work I’ve put into what I can do.

3. Problem Identifying

Because you’re paying attention to your progress, you’ll start to notice if you plateau. Plateaus are completely normal to face during training as your body adapts but to make sure you’re still making progress you will need to take action when you start to notice that things aren’t working out like they used to.

You might even notice that the habits you set out to stick to aren’t actually doing what you hoped they would to bring you closer to your goals, so you can use your tracking to identify where you need to re-evaluate.

4. Attention Focusing

If you’re new to the concept of tracking your habits and goals, it’s going to take time and energy to remember to do it every day. Just carving out time each day to reflect on your goals helps you to focus on why you want to work towards these goals in the first place, and can help keep you motivated.

Over time you might not pay as much attention to tracking as you used to as it becomes a habit, so you might have to find ways of keeping yourself focused and giving your brain something new to make sure you’re always staying mindful.

5. The Mere Measurement Effect

The Mere Measurement Effect is a well-known psychological phenomenon where, regardless of the situation, simply measuring a subject’s intent to perform a behaviour makes it more likely for them to, well, perform that behaviour. This often occurs in psychological studies in which participants act differently to how they normally would, simply because they are aware that they are being observed for a specific purpose.

This effect often applies outside of the world of studies, however, and research has frequently noted that people who track their habits and goals often change their behaviour in a positive way to influence the end result. It appears that, to some degree, you can actually influence yourself to complete a goal by simply logging your intent to do so.


Things to Track

Another great reason to track your progress is that you can track as much, or as little, as you want to.

As the vast majority of my goals are related to pole, I keep a log of what happens in each lesson. I tend to track my weightlifting in another notebook, but honestly, it’s just because I was lazy and the notebook I’m using was the closest to hand at the time. And I hate being inconsistent with my tracking.

I track the following things in my pole log:

  • Date
  • Studio
  • Instructor
  • Achievements
  • What I worked on
  • Notes from the lesson
    • Things to try next time
    • Things to work on
    • Things I particularly enjoyed
  • Class Rating, based on how much I enjoyed the class

This helps me to keep track of my progress, remind myself of things that I want to work on more, and stay mindful of my pole journey.

This isn’t a definitive list of everything you can track in relation to your pole classes or sessions, and there’s definitely a lot more out there that you can fold into your tracking.

I don’t tend to include progress photos in my journal as it’s written in a notebook, and I’m too lazy to print out pictures, but I also log things I’ve achieved during the lesson so I can see where I’m making progress.

If this isn’t enough for you, or doesn’t work for you, here’s some more inspiration for things to track from your pole sessions:

Write a Journal

How did you feel before, during, and after the class? Did this affect how much you were able to do in the class? What cool things did you see other people doing that you want to work towards?

A journal is a great section to add if you want to track how your class makes you feel emotionally and how your pole session is helping (or hindering) your mental health.

Nutrition

What did you eat before and after your workout? How did your pre-workout snack affect your training? How did your post-workout meal affect your recovery?

If you’re focused on adapting your nutritional intake to better serve your pole goals, then tracking your pre- and post-workout intake can help you stay mindful of how these foods affect your energy levels and emotional state during your workouts.

Consistency

How many sessions of pole have you done this week? How many of your planned sessions have you completed? What’s your current streak of planned sessions completed?

Keeping track of how consistent you are with attending your planned pole sessions can help if your goal is to consistently go to more pole classes, or do more pole sessions at home.

Just remember to be mindful of the difference between won’t vs. can’t, and if you are tracking a streak, I’d recommend only breaking that streak when you choose not to complete a planned session – not when life gets in the way, and you can’t make it.


How to Track

Once you know what you want to track, you’ll need a medium to track through.

I’m a huge fan of the classic notebook approach, and I have a pole log for specifically tracking each pole class and session that I complete. I also have a planner for my day-to-day life and log my cross-training workouts in another notebook.

My partner, meanwhile, prefers to do his tracking entirely digitally, with a single notebook for his day-to-day exercise habit.

As you can see, Nick is a lot more in-depth with his tracking than I am. He’s formulated an entire system around his habits on Excel, complete with graphs, charts, percentage values – and it’s all colour coded.

I also use Habitica for tracking my day-to-day habits in a simple format.

Habitica

Habitica is great if, like me, you enjoy making a game out of following your habits. It has an in-built rewards system (which you can add custom rewards to) and you can complete quests, level up, and evolve cool pets.

With Habitica, you have Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos, all of which can have varying levels of difficulty.

Habits can be completed multiple times a day, and can either be positive (which gives you Gold, XP, and sometimes Items every time you complete them) or negative (which reduces your Health and Mana).

Dailies are things that you complete each day, and you can set these to only occur on certain days. Completing them gives you Gold, XP, and sometimes Items. If you don’t complete them by the end of the day, you lose Health.

To-Dos are one-time-only checklist items that give you Gold, XP, and sometimes Items when you complete them.

The interface is slick, it’s super easy to use, and it turns your habits into a game – what’s not to love?


Summary

Tracking, like pretty much everything else in the Pole Goals 101 series, is a personal journey.

You can track as much (like Nick) or as little (like me) as you want. Whether you want to spend ten minutes a day or block out an entire hour to do your tracking, there’s methods out there to suit everyone.

But whatever you track, and however you do it, tracking is one of the best ways you can ensure you smash your pole goals.


Join me next week when I’ll be chatting about the importance of rest days in your exercise schedule. Who doesn’t love being told that resting is actually beneficial for their goals?

How do you track your pole goals and habits? Join the conversation over on Facebook and Instagram!

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