Updated information on COVID-19 and Flu: Restricted visitation is now in effect
Mayo Clinic Health Library

Reach your goals, track your habits

Updated: 12-30-2016

When it comes to reaching wellness goals, it's crucial to hold yourself accountable for making healthy choices. But that's often easier said than done. Is there a simple strategy that can help? Yes. You can use a tracking method such as journaling or a health device and apps. Research has shown that people who track their efforts — whether it's the number of steps they take a day, the quality of their sleep or what they eat at each meal — are more successful at reaching their health and fitness goals than those who don't.

Tracking helps create self-awareness and accountability. It provides feedback and reflection, helping you identify positive and negative behavior patterns. Tracking can also be a strong motivator because it allows you to see progress, big or small, toward your goals. Yes, it takes a little getting used to in the beginning, but over time tracking becomes an effortless and rewarding habit.

From writing in a journal to using the latest electronic gadget, there are many ways to track health data. Experiment with several trackers to find the one that works best for you. Recording your goals and actions in a paper journal is an easy and inexpensive place to start tracking. You can also explore digital trackers, which are available on most online health or weight-loss programs, such as The Mayo Clinic Diet. Wearable devices such as activity trackers and smartphone apps are also a good way to track your information on the go. Don't be afraid to move on to a different tracking system if the one you're using becomes too cumbersome or unhelpful.

Constant tracking can be a big commitment, so after a while, you may want to transition from tracking to monitoring. For example, instead of recording every meal throughout the day, you might record one day's worth of meals in a two-week period. Remember that the ultimate goal is to create healthier habits so that you can achieve your health and fitness goals. If you find that you are starting to slip, you can always increase the amount of recording to get back on track.


  1. Identify a specific, realistic health and fitness goal that you would like to achieve in the next six months, and brainstorm some ways you can make it happen.
  2. Do some research to find a tracker that fits your needs. It could be paper based or digital.
  3. Decide how often you want to track your metric. For instance, if you're tracking nutrition, you may want to record your meals daily. But if you're tracking your waist circumference, you may only want to do this once a month.