Track Progress With These Special Coloring Pages

By now, I'm sure you've taken up — or at least heard of — the hot new trend: coloring books for adults. But have you ever considered using a creative tool like a coloring book to track your progress toward a goal? Enter Map Your Progress: the company providing you with Creative Progress Maps to inspire you to keep working on living better.

Before you purchase one of artist and founder Amy Jones' color-in trackers, you must first have a goal. Want to read 100 books? Think happy thoughts? Save money? Figure out what you want to do and how you'll measure it, then check out the Creative Progress Maps. Each map is made up of between 20 and 365 swirls, and you'll color in one swirl whenever you've made progress, e.g. finished a book, thought positively, or saved $10.

It's a novel take on the more traditional adult coloring books, which are designed to minimize stress and anxiety in our lives. As Jones told me, much of our negativity comes from the fact that, as adults, we're "[c]ounting our failures on a daily basis." Her business, she says, taps into our "desire for playfulness ... and the visual/artsy satisfaction of creating something to become more adult."

Coloring might not seem like a very adult hobby. In fact, its success is often attributed to the fact that it categorically is not. But Jones disagrees. Coloring might tap into childhood experiences, but it also brings a sense of identity to adulthood: "I feel much more grown by using coloring and the maps. I feel connected to my elementary school-age self who called her self an artist because she drew."

The Creative Progress Maps from Map Your Progress are a great idea, but are they any more effective than other goal trackers, such as mobile apps or Xs on your calendar? I reached out to clinical psychologist Dr. Ben Michaelis — who often recommends coloring as part of his patients' therapy — for his professional opinion. He notes that almost any tool can help us track long term goals, an effort that can often prove challenging, "because it usually requires keeping an abstract idea in mind while simultaneously working on many immediate 'to-dos' in our lives." Michaelis was not aware of Map Your Progress before I asked him about it, but he says it is a tool he "would certainly consider using ... for [his] patients."

Both Jones and Michaelis agree that Map Your Progress provides reinforcement when you need it most. Jones says her designs are meant to help users feel more adult, "in the sexy way of feeling like a grown-ass person who is proud of who they are and living their life in the way they want." From a clinical standpoint, Michaelis points out that each spiral is a tiny accomplishment, for which "[o]ur brains give us a little dose of 'feel good' neurotransmitters" — pats on the back for your mental health!

Having a way, any way, to check off those micro-goals can keep us going. Each spiral colored in on a Creative Progress Map, then, is a visual, physical, and mental affirmation of our ultimate success. Keep it up, they say. You're doing great! But unlike an app, which we must access in order to see evidence of our improvement, Map Your Progress is functional art. You can hang your map on your bedroom wall and look at it everyday without even trying. It serves as a constant reminder, and that's exactly what you need when you're engaged in a months- or years-long project.

Images: Map Your Progress (3)