Still writing, stay tuned.
Shown below is my “weekly small wins chart” method, implemented on a large whiteboard.
Personally, I have only used this method for about a month but so far my mood & motivation has improved noticeably. The small wins concept isn’t something new, so this should make an easy read.
I have only recently recovered from a years-long burnout phase that was caused by overwork at my old software consultancy business.
After some reflection, I realized something: over-ambitiousness and the thirst for approval has rendered myself a very unhappy person. I keep a…lively comedic facade, but inside I’m dead.
I have been trying so many things (medications included) for so long but it seems that low baseline of happiness is pretty much part of my personality at this point. I have grown to accept that.
But perhaps, I thought, instead of aiming to be “happy” (whatever that is), I just want to at least feel content. See, small moments of happiness have been plenty but they were fleeting and I would soon after find myself sinking back into the grump hole.
Inspired by cognitive behavioral therapy and “The Slight Edge” book, I’ve been using the small-wins tracking & gratitude journaling techniques for a long time. I even made a gamified web app for myself based on that concept. But they don’t seem to work anymore.
The thing is, those techniques require me to consciously start them. Open the notebook, open the app. Need a little pick me up, read past entries? Open the notebook, open the app. Some conscious effort is required. Yes, it’s small, but those add up.
Let’s go back to basic chemistry. In order for a chemical reaction to occur, the two bla bla bla need to be . I’m sorry, my AS Level was like a decade ago.
Get my drift? Some conscious effort was required to, you know, start the…uh..the engine. Sorry, my metaphor game ain’t strong no more.
Anyway, keeping the engine running is not a problem, but starting the engine? Hoo boy. On some days, that’s pretty much impossible.
Maybe I needed some sort of a subliminal, minimum-effort reminder or something. Push notifications? SMS reminders, maybe?
No, no, no, no! It has to be very low tech and easy AF to replicate. I’m done being the typical programmer who codes up shiny non-solutions without testing the concept beforehand.
I came up with a requirement: If a time-traveling pervert suddenly showed up through a portal one day and threw me 1000 years to the past into his medieval sex dungeon, I want to still be able to use the method. Maybe using the walls?
So, one day I looked across my bedroom and saw my large whiteboards. Yes, plural. I have 3. I used them to sketch up some UI/UX stuff, flow charts, brainstorming, and other beanie-wearer stuff back when I was a software consultant.
Lightbulb moment: What if I just write small wins on a whiteboard and use a layout that makes the blobs of words resemble a chart? I wanted to say “Eureka!” but hold your horses. Would this work?
Sorry for the long introduction – I have to please the search engine gods. Thank you for staying, by the way. Now let’s get to business.
Just use one colour marker. No need to overcomplicate stuff. What’s important is to get started right away and get in the groove of things.
Over time, move on to color code categories]
brown – career
green – health (physical & mental)
blue – social
red – exercise
What to do when the week ends?
Honestly, I just wipe them all over. I regret that now. I recommend taking a picture or two first, and then wipe them clean.
One suggestion is to stack papers.