Adult Report Cards
March 25, 2015
Filed In: Philosophy
When I was in high school, in my Junior and Senior year, I was introduced to something truly horrible. It was a system called EdLine and it gave my parents direct, realtime access to my teacher's grade books. While I performed well academically, the pressure of constantly knowing one's grade was almost too much. With the press of a button, a bad test grade could ruin an entire weekend. My parents loved it because they had a granular view of my progress and could spot trends.
While I dispute the morality of giving parents this level of access to grades, I do think that, as adults, we could benefit from this type of system. We set goals for ourselves or have dreams that we'd like to fulfill, most of which occur over time. Having a report card that gives us a realtime picture of our progress could be immensely helpful and could also translate into a higher success rate. As adults, we refer to these report cards as habit streaks. I use an app called Habit List on my phone to track daily progress with a simple yes or no challenge. Did I keep a food diary today? Yes. 1 day added to my streak. Did I drink 8 glasses of water? No. My streak begins again tomorrow. This frictionless system takes seconds to update each evening, but provides a powerful set of data and subtle motivation to keep a streak alive. We need report cards or habit streaks to give us feedback on progress towards our goals.
Goal setting requires tracking. While it can be ugly, feedback is our best path to success. No one likes negative feedback, so when we receive it, and when we have the means to stop it, we will change our behavior which, in turn, leads to success. We get that motivation back that we had when we started this goal achievement journey. It can literally get you back on the horse and moving again in the right direction.
We need accountability in our lives. Discipline isn't pleasant and without someone or something holding up a mirror to us, we'll fall victim to the laziness within us. No matter what the task is, we need help keeping on track. We need a person or a system to hold our hand and to keep moving us forward. Habit streaks can add that level of discipline back into the equation.
The longer the habit streak, the more likely your continued success. We see the number of days add up to a huge number and we have no interest in seeing it go back to 0, so we push ourselves to success. As an added bonus, the longer you avoid a bad habit, the better you're able to resist it. The more you do a good habit, the more it becomes ingrained in you.
Report cards in school were the enemy, but habit streaks as an adult are an ally. Habit streaks will push you to places that you've never been and help you to become the best person that you can be.