how to take a habit inventory The view from a recent bike ride: a good habit back from the dead.

Everything by longevity tends to get off course. Everything needs to be corrected. — Jim Rohn

Some of us like to be in control.

That’s me. Probably you, too (at least sometimes).

We don’t try to control others or a have burning desire to manage every last detail of a situation. But when it comes to our own lives, we all like to feel like we’re managing the stuff we can manage. And habits are at the top of the list.

We’ve got good habits and bad habits. Old ones and new ones. The wonderful (and insidious) thing about habits is that they’re automatic. A good habit serves us uncomplainingly, and a bad one fires up before we even notice what’s happening.

A good, well, habit is to occasionally take a habit inventory. It takes a couple of minutes, it’s easy, and it helps keep us on course. Here’s how it works.

Good Habits

Grab a piece of paper or open the notes app on your phone. Let’s ask ourselves a few short questions.

1. What are my current good habits?

Maybe you’ve been exercising three times a week, having more patience with your family, or getting into work on time. Maybe the exercise habit has been in place for years, while you’ve only just started being punctual at the office.

Doesn’t matter. Give credit where it’s due, baby! Pat yourself on the back.

2. Are there any good habits I’ve recently abandoned or put off starting?

Were you planning to start reading more a few months ago? Forget feeling guilty; it’s not helpful. Instead, ask yourself:

Bad Habits

We gotta deal with the bad habits, too. Same questions:

3. What are my current bad habits?

Are you getting less sleep than you need? Biting your nails? Spending a little too much on single-use kitchen gadgets?

4. Are there any bad habits I’ve recently abandoned?

This is cause for celebration! If you’ve quit smoking, texting while driving, or participating in workplace gossip, give yourself a high five.

My Habit Inventory Results

My most recent habit inventory revealed one good habit I’ve recently (re)started and one bad habit I’m abandoning.

A good habit: I’ve recently started exercising again!

I’m back on my road bike after a couple years of focusing half-heartedly on running.

I recently had a realization: I don’t really like running.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. I’m always eager to fit a bike ride in, while going for a run always feels like a chore.

The bike’s now out of the basement, and the running shoes are in the closet.

Habit Inventory Today’s lunchtime ride to Thousand Hills State Park!

A bad habit: Drinking too much beer.

I like beer. Sarah and I are homebrewers, and I appreciate a fine craft beer after a hard day’s work.

The problem is, “a fine craft beer” had gradually become “three fine craft beers.” Sometimes, four. On a weekday.

Not okay for my productivity or, more importantly, my long-term health.

I decided to set up some rules:

  • No beer on weeknights unless we have company (or are company).
  • Two beer limit on Friday and Saturday (again, unless we have or are company)

So far, so good. Sarah knows the plan as well, so I have her to hold me accountable.

Regularly taking a habit inventory forces us to confront our bad habits and acknowledge our good ones. Consider doing one once a month!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go for a bike ride.