To master your habits, one powerful thing you can do is to use a mindset tracker. It is similar to a habit tracker but it also measures how your daily habits are affecting your brain.
Here’s why measuring brain health is important:
Habit trackers have been around for years and some of the most successful people in the world use them to track their daily, weekly, and monthly habits.
However, many habits contribute to poor brain health. Too much sitting, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and chronic stress all have damaging effects on the brain and harm our ability to make good decisions.
Most habit trackers don’t measure the negative effects bad habits have on the brain. On the other hand, a mindset tracker will easily show you if your daily behavior is keeping your mind sharp or damaging your brain.
Why the Brain is Important
The brain is the most valuable organ in the human body. It controls memory, communication, problem solving, decision making, and all of the body’s functions. What you do every single day has a direct effect on your brain’s structure. Your habits can literally change your brain for better or worse.
While your good habits grow your brain and make it stronger. Your bad habits harm your brain and make existing neural connections in your brain weaker.
If you don’t sufficiently challenge your brain by learning new skills it will eventually deteriorate and shrink with age. If your brain doesn’t get proper nutrition, exercise, rest, and hydration it can’t function properly.
And anything that happens to your brain will directly affect your health and your intellectual ability. By tracking the impact your habits have, you can make better life choices and learn how to grow your brain.
This is where a mindset tracker can be a useful tool.
How to Use a Mindset Tracker
A mindset tracker measures whether you did a habit like a habit tracker. Each day you complete a task you just cross it off.
But it also measures your brain health similar to the way a profit and loss statement (P&L) measures the health of a business. The best part is it does that automatically so you don’t have to do anything else. It is that easy to use.
Successful entrepreneurs use a P&L to determine if they are profitable or if they are bleeding cash. Over time a business that does not have a healthy P&L will run out of money and close its doors. It is an essential tool entrepreneurs use every day to make better decisions.
While a P&L deducts expenses from revenues to determine net income, a mindset tracker deducts bad habits from good habits to arrive at net growth. By measuring whether your daily habits are growing your brain or harming it, you can make better decisions to optimize your brain health.
A healthy brain will keep you mentally sharp and improve your learning, memory, and cognitive function. On the other hand, an unhealthy one can decrease your quality of life and lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Every decision you make will impact your brain. So choose your habits wisely.
I created the mindset tracker below to help you make better choices. Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:
Step #1: Add Habits You Want to Track
First, add the habits you want to track. You need to include the habits you want to build at the top of the tracker and the habits you want to break at the bottom.
For every good habit that you want to build you probably also have to break a bad habit. A person that wants to walk 30 minutes daily but watches too much television needs to give up screen time for walking. A person that eats fast food often and wants to eat healthier will need to give up a burger for a salad.
You can track as many habits as you need to but manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits. It is better to consistently track a few habits than struggle to track 10 or more habits.
Step #2: Mark an X if You Do the Habit
Every day that you stick with a habit you just mark on X on the calendar. You also need to mark an X if you do a bad habit that you want to avoid.
The objective is to get your calendar filled with as many good habits (green) as possible and to avoid bad habits (red).
By providing the brain with more oxygen, exercise helps your brain grow.
Step #3: Review Progress Each Month
Daily exercise also protects the brain from aging and neurodegenerative diseases by making it stronger. And best of all it’s free.
4. Get Plenty of Quality Sleep
Sleep deprivation and busyness used to be considered a badge of honor in our society especially among entrepreneurs. But in recent years more people are realizing that lack of sleep leads to impaired judgment and poor decisions.
In fact lack of sleep can harm your brain and lower your resistance to stress. Researchers also believe that depriving your brain of sleep impairs your ability to focus and learn efficiently. 1
Your brain needs sleep as much your body needs water and food. According to neuroscientists, sleep restores the brain and can help improve your learning, memory, problem solving, reasoning, and creativity.
Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of regular quality sleep boosts brain health and is critical to cognitive function. It also gives your brain a deep clean by flushing out toxins that build during waking hours. 2
Your mind needs sleep to think. Without enough of it you can’t form or maintain the neuron connections that let you learn and create new memories. 3
So instead of working harder focus on the quality of work you do.
5. Enjoy a Big Bowl of Vegetables
According to the CDC, 90% of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Instead, ultra-processed foods make up over 50% of what we eat. Half our total calories come from foods that are low in nutrients and high sugar, oil, and salt. 4
Eating vegetables is not only essential to maintain a healthy weight but we need them to boost brain function and keep the mind sharp. Research shows that green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, and broccoli improve memory and slow cognitive decline.
Vegetables also prevent many chronic diseases. They are full of disease-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that actually help you live longer. People who eat 7 or more daily portions of fresh vegetables reduced their overall risk of death by an incredible 42 percent. 5
Vegetables pack a powerful punch and are irreplaceable. Eating them is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and give your mind the power it needs.
By using the 50 Percent Rule you can make eating vegetables a habit.
6. Do What Gives You Passion
Everyone is different. Your talents and passions are unique to you. And doing what you love will not only make you happier but it will also change your brain.
Research shows that when you perform activities you enjoy you have less stress, a lower heart rate, a better mood, and a positive attitude. Learning something new also challenges your brain and helps your mind to grow stronger.
During a recent study, neuroscientists observed that people who are passionate about what they do are more motivated and willing to work harder. Doing what you love is important since mastering a skill is difficult and it takes time.
Passion is what gives you the fuel to stay the course during difficult times. When you push yourself to overcome challenges it forces your mind to think and grow.
Practicing new and challenging activities that energize you also make you mentally stronger.
7. Build Strong Social Connections
Feeling socially connected is more important than ever today. Especially since loneliness increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
Research shows that strong social relationships are crucial to your brain health. In fact, getting together with friends protects you from depression, boosts your memory, and strengthens neural connections in your brain.
Loneliness has the opposite effect and can hasten cognitive decline due to a lack of intellectual stimulation.
Take some time off and spend it with friends. It is good for your brain.
Power Up To Grow Your Mind
Your mind controls your thoughts which are the beginning of everything you do. All your beliefs, actions, and habits start with a thought. And together they become your destiny.
Growing your mind is the first step to master your habits.
Think of your brain as a light switch. Whenever you turn on the power your conscious mind is fully awake and engaged. When you turn the switch off your mind is on autopilot and your subconscious is working on habits formed.
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- Lack of sleep impairs a person’s ability to focus and learn efficiently. Hedy Marks (August 2021), Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss.
- Cerebrospinal fluid (blue) flows through the brain and clears out toxins through a series of channels that expand during sleep. Maiken Nedergaard (October 2013), How Sleep Clears the Brain.
- Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories. NIH Publication No. 17-3440c, Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.
- Ultra-processed food consumption grew from 53.5 percent of calories. ScienceDaily (October 2021), Americans are eating more ultra-processed foods.
- Seven or more portions produced a 42 percent decline in the risk of death. Lenny Bernstein (April 2014), Mom was right: Eat LOTS of veggies. They’re even better for you than fruit.