Take five minutes: the Red Pen exercise

By Susan February 6, 2015 10:03

Take five minutes: the Red Pen exercise


Take five minutes


In this series I want to encourage you to take just five minutes out of your busy day to set yourself up for bigger, better success.

People wonder how they can make their dreams come true: very often, it’s a matter of working out a way of making a small dent in a big ambition, putting the right systems in place, and making sure that it’s easy for these systems to work.

I will share my own systems, so that you can test them and see whether they work for you.

If you want to share a five-minute system with my readers or indeed give me feedback on how this is working for you, tweet me @SusanHayes_

Remember, it only takes five minutes, right now, to change the course of history – your history at least!


What’s the Red Pen exercise?


1. You will need a diary or notebook that you regularly refer to, and a red pen (or another colour that you like and that cheers you up). If you don’t use a paper diary, the note-taking app on your phone might work well for you. It’s best, though, if you can see your note in red pen in the middle of all the appointments for that day: it will jog your memory more effectively.

For this first time doing the exercise, you will go to yesterday’s date in your diary and write down one thing you are proud of achieving yesterday. If you’re doing this on your phone or computer, write the date, and one sentence about that day’s achievements.

You HAVE to write one thing you are PROUD of. This could be a new client, a great testimonial, a good networking event, a finished assignment, retention of a customer, a review meeting with your boss, overcoming a fear, getting around to something you were procrastinating about, etc.


“Mmhh… I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary



That’s exactly why you need the red pen exercise! Find something, find anything: you did the right thing, you helped somebody, you stayed going even though you were tired, you were ten minutes early for a meeting. As a result you were cool, calm and collected and the meeting went well. Write that down!

Or you worked up the nerve to make a phone call you dreaded, or to write to someone you admire. Write that down!

You HAVE to write something. You can use this prompt: “I’m pleased with myself that I did ____”

This is the first step.

2. The second step is to put a reminder in your phone or on your computer to do the same this evening, then tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after, etc.

3. The third step is to go back through your diary and look at these comments on a day that you’re feeling reflective, need a boost, are wondering if you’re really getting anywhere, finding it difficult to get started or are wondering “Where has the time gone?” You will be astonished at all the things you achieved in just a few weeks or months and you will begin to spot patterns.

The good patterns that lead to success are repeatable, but you can’t repeat them and fine-tune them if you’re not aware of them.


Why do it?


1. To boost morale and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

2. Because it will help you uncover effective systems, in business and in your personal life.

3. Because you need to acknowledge the little successes. They always end up blooming into big victories.


Find the repeatable steps. Trust that your success didn’t just fall out of the sky: you worked at it, so make sure you don’t forget the tiny steps that took you there. Then repeat those steps to achieve more success!


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By Susan February 6, 2015 10:03