You probably keep a to-do list, a running tally of the things you want to accomplish. You may also take the time to write down your goals for the coming day, or week, or month. But here’s something you should do but probably don’t: End every evening by writing down the best things you did that day.
I had never thought about doing anything like this until I came across this New York Times piece about accepting compliments, especially from yourself. It doesn’t sound like much of a practice and it only takes a few minutes so it may be hard to see why the simple act of writing down a few small tasks — fed the cat, hugged my kid, helped solve someone’s problem at work, made dinner — could be a powerful self-improvement tool. And yet, it is.
If you’re a good boss, you already know that praising people about their efforts and accomplishments is one of the most powerful ways there is to motivate them to an even more outstanding performance. It turns out that the same principle applies to the praise you give yourself. This is counter-intuitive for a lot of people, including me. You are likely more are accustomed to motivating yourself by basically yelling at yourself like a drill sergeant. “Get up off the couch, turn off the TV and go work out you lazy idiot! What’s wrong with you? If you don’t get moving, you’ll never amount to anything!”