Tracking life VS Living trackless - Knowing when it's time to let go of old methods

Olof Ekman
Feb 5, 2021

I’ve been a long time advocate for tracking your habits and have recommended people I’ve been working with in The 1-Month Habit Experiment to play around with tracking tools to help them stay consistent. 

And truth be told, tracking my habits has helped me greatly throughout the years by supporting me to stay consistent over longer periods of time. It has helped shape my identity as someone with self-discipline. Through tracking my workouts, I’ve managed to get physically stronger. I finally have a reading habit. It has supported my journaling, which, now a year on,  has increased my self-awareness and made me comfortable with expressing myself in words (not sure I would’ve started blogging had I not journaled first). And all this has greatly improved my self-esteem and made me feel like I can rely on myself.

Leftovers from my days of tracking galore.

And most importantly, it helped me build a meditation habit. But the more I meditate, the more the importance of tracking evaporates. The more clear it gets what the tracking actually is.

Because what is it about really? What I’ve noticed recently is that it makes me feel good about myself when I do all my habits in a day. But if I don’t do it, there’s a sense of discontentment. Do my habits = Good human. Don’t do my habits = not so good human. 

From what I’ve understood from studying the ancient eastern mystics and Zen Buddhism, part of the goal with mediation is to realize that your ego is an illusion and that you aren’t your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and whatnot, but something different entirely.

200+ workouts minutiously tracked

By tracking my habits daily and connecting my self-worth to whether I do them or not, I feed my ego the cookies it needs each day. I’m reinforcing an idea of myself that I’ve come to see is not really me but who my ego wants me to be. And I am taken out of the moment by my mind constantly commenting in the background. “When will you meditate? Are you doing your kettlebell workout today? Better take time to read, got a streak of 16 days going.”

There is a story Buddha told about five men who were always carrying a heavy boat around on their heads. It was so heavy it was almost crushing them. People asked them “Why are you carrying that boat?”

They answered:

We cannot leave this boat. This boat got us over the river and helped us escape the tiger. We will carry it on our heads for the rest of our life in sheer gratitude

Time to let go of the boat...

If you’re tracking habits (or anything else) and it helps you, for the love of Buddha stay in the boat! Just be aware that what gets you over the river won’t necessarily get you across the field. I’ve loved the boat but it’s more of a burden than helper now, so time to put it down and live trackless.

So what is that like? 

Living trackless

It means doing things out of a place of love, curiosity, spontaneity, and joy. My Ego is cringing writing this! But the true ‘me’ knows it’s a better way to live now. 

It means not worrying if I don’t do anything. The world, or what I am, is unaffected by these actions. Only the ego cares. So bye-bye obsessively tracking, and hello living trackless. 

I should say that it’s not easy to let go of these things. A big part of my identity is tied up in it. If I don’t track and do all these things, what am I? I’m not sure yet but I’m curious to explore it and experiment with an entirely different way of living.

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