from one pocket to another is another good counter. Of course, wrist
counters, similar to golf counters, are available.
If you record each recurrence of the desired behavior, you are
more likely to change your behavior than if you record the bad habit
you are trying to replace. Example: It is better to record hours spent
studying than hours watching TV if you want to study more. If you are,
nevertheless, going to record the unwanted behavior, such as
cigarettes smoked, calorie intake, or nail biting, require yourself to
record the behavior before acting. That way the recording helps to
reduce the habit (Kanfer, 1970).
Rate your emotions and attitudes
You will find that certain feelings and emotional reactions are hard
to measure. For example, suppose you generally feel blue or sort of
sad and bored. How would you count that target behavior? You
couldn't, but you can rate it from 1 to 10, with 1 being very happy and
excited, 5 being neither happy nor sad, and 10 being very unhappy
and hopeless. Likewise, if you are just generally irritable, it may be
hard to count any meaningful bit of behavior, but you could daily rate
your level of irritation or sensitivity or anger.
Every problem--and every desired behavior or feeling--can be
measured by counting or rating. By measuring the problem every few
hours or maybe every day or two, you can tell how serious the
problem is and if you are changing.
Plotting your progress
It is important to start plotting the behavior, feelings, or attitude
you want to change as soon as possible, preferably before you start
trying to change the behavior, so that you will get an idea of your level
of adjustment before self-help is started. In fact, when you make the
graph, record your best estimate of the frequency or severity of the
target behavior or emotion during the previous week. This provides a
pre-observation basis of comparison with later data. Continue to keep
these records, preferably day by day, throughout the time you are
trying to change, and keep the records for a while after the project is
over to be sure you don't backslide.
Why is it so important to keep a daily record of your progress?
Day-by-day (or more often) assessment of your adjustment is more
accurate than your recall a week or so later of how well you coped
(Stone, et al, 1998). Frequent recordings force you to become more
concrete, more realistic, and more objective in thinking about the
problem. You can then better decide what observable, measurable
changes you would like to accomplish. Many people find that as soon
as they start observing the behavior through daily records, the
behavior frequently, almost immediately starts to improve. This is
empirically confirmed by Cone (1999), Thorsen and Mahoney (1974),
Kazdin (1974), and Johnson and White (1971). These improvements