What went well today?

A few years ago I found myself not only grieving the death of my father but also recovering from cancer and dealing with a whole bunch of other problems that life had decided to bring to me, all at the same time.

Life, it seemed, was dreadful.

So I decided to begin a new habit.

I set a reminder on my phone for the end of each day to ask myself one very simple question:

“What went well today?”

At first, my answers probably wouldn’t have impressed to you. They were things like “Walked 50 metres,” “Met up with a friend,” or “Saw a beautiful sunset.” But at the time, even these simple things were huge advances for me. Reminding myself of them helped me to keep going. And as I recovered from the cancer and moved on with my life, so my answers to this daily question also shifted and grew. One day last year, for example, I walked over 50 kilometres in a day, three times.

Years later, this reminder is still there on my phone. And at the end of nearly every day, I still ask myself this simple question. With hindsight, this has brought me three very powerful and valuable things:

  1. It reminds me of what is going well in my life, as well as what is going badly. This gives me a more balanced perspective, which improves my morale
  2. It reminds me of what is important to me, which helps me to decide my priorities for tomorrow and next week, which means I end up doing more of the things I value most, which improves my morale again. It creates a virtuous circle, a self-reinforcing loop
  3. It trains me to see past the ‘problems’ to find the opportunities in a crisis. It strengthens and builds in me the key attitude of leadership, every day, which helps me to solve problems and to find new ways forward 

With hindsight, this very simple process has actually been transformative — a major contribution to my becoming more antifragile: able to focus more of my energies on not only what is going well but also what could go even better. I recommend it to you.

Is your life perfect at the moment? Do you take the time to remember what is going well, as well as what is going badly? Would it be useful to set a reminder on your phone at the end of each day to ask yourself what went well today?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Kevin Gale via StockPholio.net

2 Replies to “What went well today?”

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