April 19

Positive Reinforcement using Visual Reminders of Momentum

When trying to make a positive change in your life through habits your first goal is to build momentum.  Start small, chain together a few quick wins and before long it becomes a foundiation on which you can expand and build more positive habits.

Before long you find yourself on an upwards spiral of positivity that feeds off itself.  

Once you've started to build positive habits into your life, and have some wins under your belt, you want to ride that wave of momentum for as long as you can.

One way that really helps to reinforce momentum is with visual indicators.  

They're reminders that you add to your daily life that serve two purposes:-

  1. They allow you to feel good about the wins that you've racked up.
  2. They serve to remind you to not break the chain.

Ideally, these reminders are in such a place that you see them multiple times a day during your daily lives.  And, importantly, they should make you feel good.

Many prolific creators, including the great author Anthony Trollope, employed visual indicators to keep them on track with their habits.  In the quote below, Trollope is referring to his running log of word count, planning for 10,000 words per week:-

In this I have entered, day by day, the number of pages I have written, so that if at any time I have slipped into idleness for a day or two, the record of that idleness has been there, staring me in the face, and demanding of me increased labour so that the deficiency might be supplied.

Anthony Trollope

Visual reminders can be very powerful when helping you to ride that wave of momentum.  Here are some of the best reminders below:-

Examples of Visual Reminders of Momentum

1. Calendar on the Wall

Often dubbed the Seinfeld Strategy, this simply involves hanging a calendar on the wall in a very public place, and marking off the days that you successfully performed your habits with a red pen.  

Each successful day is marked with a big red cross.  

"After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain."

A very simple but effective way to reinforce momentum.

2. Spreadsheet logging

This is my personal favorite.  Each day I'll log my daily habits in a spreadsheet. Every successfully completed habit is rewarded with a green cell.  Misses, however, are shaded in yellow.

This works well for me because I'm always on my computer and I keep the spreadsheet open all the time.  It serves as a very prominent reminder and has resulted in a strange infatuation for green cells!

3. The Paperclip Strategy

This simply involves having two cups on your desk.  One cup starts filled with paperclips and the other cup is empty.  Each day that goes by in which you've successfully completed your habits, move a paper clip from the full glass to the empty one.

As time goes by the "momentum" cup will fill up, serving a reminder of all the successful days you've had.

I've personally used this reminder when doing my video challenge of recording 30 videos in 30 days.  The two cups reminded me how well I'd been doing, but also how many more videos I had to complete.

4. Habit Logging Apps

There are many free and premium apps that you can use for habit logging.  You can download them onto your phone and keep an ongoing record of your performance.

Some of the more popular apps include:-

Most of these apps have great visual reminders of your habit performance:-

Main Takeaways from this Post

  • Once you've done the hard part of getting started and built some positive momentum, try to ride the wave of momentum for as long as possible
  • Consider using visual reminders of your performance to keep track of your wins and make you feel good about your progress
  • Whether you use a calendar, spreadsheet, paperclips or an app...try to find a system that's right for you and keeps you on track!

What do you use as visual reminders of momentum?  Share your system in the comments below.

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