My secret technique for keeping up morale
There are times in our life when we pause for a moment and reflect.
For many people, the end of a year and the beginning of another is such a time. Or it might be your birthday, or a holiday, or going back to a place you haven’t been in a long time, or having a conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in a while and they ask “So, what have you been up to since the last time?”
These pauses are great because they allow us to realise how much we’ve achieved in the meantime. But this also means that, on a daily basis, too few of us take the opportunity to simply take five minutes to reflect on what we achieved that day.
Which is a pity, because this very simple habit can boost your mood and make you more productive!
This is an excerpt from The Savvy Guide to Making More Money.
“One night I stayed in an airport hotel in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Airport hotels can be notoriously bland places, with the same decor and the same busy travellers the world over. I had been giving training that morning in Amsterdam and was travelling by train.
I worked on my e-mails throughout the journey, and by the time I arrived I’d had enough of the laptop. Tired and bored, I went to the hotel restaurant for dinner on my own. I always take pen and paper with me on these occasions, to brainstorm and strategize.
For some reason, on that night I took my diary.
I started to flick back through the pages. I smiled as I recalled a funny meeting. I sighed as I remembered the stresses of a particular day. I fondly remembered some experiences.
Then… I started to fill in the blanks. With the benefit of hindsight, I could trace back developments that were now bearing fruit to a phone call, a chance meeting, a long-shot e-mail, a coffee with a like-minded person.
There had been days that had seemed banal when I lived them; I had dismissed them as ‘just another day in the office’ or maybe I didn’t notice them at all. Still, their slow accumulation had brought me to a better place. Other days had entries for big, memorable events – signing the contract for the book, the day my brother got his dream job, my friend’s wedding.
By the time dessert arrived, I felt so much more grateful for the little things that had snowballed into big ones: our company’s healthy accounts, a colourfully stamped passport and memories to last me a lifetime. So why, I asked myself, did it take exhaustion and boredom combined for me just to open my diary and go back over the previous months?
I decided that night that I would write every achievement of the day in red pen at the top of my diary.
The rule was that I couldn’t let the day go by without noting an achievement. Some days, you can note the big things: win a new client, publish a book, get engaged, receive a wonderful testimonial for a job that you did, see a new city, have a heart-to-heart with a friend, be nominated for an award, etc. These are all fantastic, obvious achievements and certainly worthy of the red pen.
And there are days when you tried something that you were previously too afraid of, when you were so tired and yet kept going, when simply making it through the day was an achievement in itself; days when you just felt happy, days when you made a decision with honest conviction to change a behaviour, that you stood up for yourself, that you did the right thing.
Like me that night, you may not notice that a seed’s been planted – but the red pen will remind you when you reflect back through those pages.
I find that lots of people go into reminiscing mode on New Year’s Eve: everybody comments on the speed at which time passes and questions what they really did with that year. I have a ‘New Year’s Eve’ feeling regularly, and I don’t need to rely on my memory to come up with a few significant events, when really it’s the accumulation of the tiny things that made the big things happen.
The red pen works wonders.
So that’s my secret, and if you adopt the practice you’ll realize that making progress is more a matter of a slow accumulation of rather small achievements and less a climactic battle between the lone hero and all the odds that are stacked against him.
No, it doesn’t have the same romantic ring to it. But if you make sure to notice your achievements, however small, you’ll be able to follow your rise to stardom.
Nobody is an overnight success – it’s just that, until you are a success, nobody will pay attention to the small things. Then it will look like you burst onto the scene from nowhere. But only you will know the amount of effort you put into it.”
Are you on the list?