Have you been having a hard time understanding how your habits are impacting your current lifestyle? Most weeks, I’m enjoying a streak of eating healthy foods when suddenly my healthy eating plan screeches to a stop and I’m left wondering: what just happened?

If you’ve had a similar experience where your habits have left you feeling guilty for breaking your new goal one too many times, you’re in the right place. Because, today I’ll share what a Habits Scorecard is (one that I learned about from James Clear’s Atomic Habits) and tell you how it can help you become aware of which of your habits are working in your favor, and which ones are against your goals.

Ready? Here’s how to build Good Habits with a Habit Scorecard!

What’s A Habit Scorecard and How To Create One?

A Habit Scorecard is an account of all your habits aimed at building awareness of each habit.

The idea is to help you become conscious of which of your habits are working in favor of your goals and which aren’t. Why? Because “many of our failures in performance are largely attributed to a lack of self-awareness,” notes James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits.

For instance, if you’re working toward healthy eating, a Habit Scorecard can help you understand which habits are helping you reach this goal and which ones are derailing you from your plan.

In my case, that’s definitely my habit of resorting to having a Coca-Cola every time my emotions are troubled. Lesson learned: I need to manage my emotions better.

You can create your Habits Scorecard in 3 simple steps:

1. List all your habits

This means you note down everything including trivial things like this:

  • Wake up
  • Brush teeth
  • Shower
  • Check social media
  • Have a warm cup of water
  • Open up planner

2. Grade each habit based on how it’s helping you meet your goal

In front of each habit that you’ve listed on your board, note how it’s contributing to your goals.

Is your habit encouraging you to pursue your goal? If so, add a + sign in front of your goal. For example, drinking warm water early in the morning adds to my goal of eating healthy, so I’ll grade it with a +.

If a habit does the opposite though, mark it with a minus (-) symbol. Lastly, if it’s a habit with a neutral impact on your goal, add a = sign to it.

  • Wake up =
  • Brush teeth +
  • Shower +
  • Check social media –
  • Have a warm cup of water +
  • Open up planner +

3. Make two lists of effective and non-effective habits

Finally, separate the habits based on their grades. You can leave out the habits with a = on them. This way, you’ll get a list of two different types of habits – ones that you should build upon further and ones that you need work on crushing.

With these lists, it’s likely that you’ll note a pattern to some habits. One more thing: don’t judge yourself as you list all your habits and grade them. Imagine yourself being an outsider to your life, so you can maintain a neutral lens while learning about your habits.

The One Thing That Makes A Habits Scorecard Effective

And that’s… drum rolls, please… talking to yourself! Or, to put it formally, the pointing-and-calling strategy. It’s when you point out something and say its outcome as well.

When I’m stressed or overwhelmed with work, I often start saying items on my to-do list loudly. And, as much as I’d like to keep this to myself: I’ll often talk to myself, telling myself what I’ve to next, after that, and after that. I’ll also point out what I’ve accomplished.

Pointing-and-calling often helps me better understand what’s covered and what’s on my list – sometimes even better than the plan that my online visual project manager shows.

Want proof this works? Research confirms that saying things out loud can help improve focus. This, in turn, encourages you to take a step in the right direction. In an article on Psychology Today, Reid Wilson Ph.D. echoes the same, “Once you’ve given yourself specific instructions a number of times, you’ll develop some shorthand message that will represent the action you need to take.”

So how can use pointing-and-calling with your Habits Scorecard? Two ways:

  • Point and call each habit before doing it. This way, you won’t miss adding it to your scorecard.
  • Point and call each habit as well as its outcome after your scorecard is ready. You’ll become conscious of how helpful a habit is or harmful it is, which will help you act accordingly.

Why Is The Habits Scorecard Effective?

Foremost of all, a Habits Scorecard is the first step in working on your habits since it makes you aware of good and bad habits. When you’re conscious of your habits, you’re more likely to work on them.

Secondly, a Habits Scorecard also helps you see a pattern to your habits. So you can find trigger points that set off a habit. Clear writes in his book, “Pointing-and-Calling and the Habits Scorecard are focused on getting you to recognize your habits and acknowledge the cues that trigger them, which makes it possible to respond in a way that benefits you.”

Lastly, having a visual of which habits are helping you reach your goals and vice versa and calling out each habit assists you in breaking bad habits. As Clear notes, “hearing your bad habits spoken aloud makes the consequences seem more real. It adds weight to the action rather than setting yourself mindlessly slip into an old routine.” The result? You break the chain.

Ready To Build Better Habits?

With the Habits Scorecard by your side, you’ll be better aware of how your present habits are contributing to your goals. And, once you’re aware, you can plan out how to break a bad habit or build further on a good one.