How small improvements can provide motivation – monthly review

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant

I am now two months into my goal this year of embracing life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection. In some ways, this is a more abstract goal than other years and but I am definitely noticing changes within myself in two key ways:

  • I am saying yes to more things that I might have passed on before
  • I am questioning my thoughts and feelings much more than I previously had

I still have a long way to go but seeing this improvement gives me the motivation to keep pushing forward even though it is definitely challenging at times. This is one of the reasons why taking time out to review your progress towards your goal each month is critical to ongoing success. Without taking the time to review you may not notice the progress because it is small. But progress, no matter how small, represents movement towards your end goal and should be acknowledged. Here are some reasons why small improvements can give you motivation:

  1. Sense of accomplishment – each small improvement gives a sense of accomplishment, which can help to boost confidence and motivate you to continue working towards your goal.
  2. Reinforcement of behavior – even small improvements reinforces the behavior that led to the improvement, making it more likely that you will continue to engage in that behavior in the future.
  3. Positive feedback loop – small improvements can create a positive feedback loop, where the sense of accomplishment from one improvement motivates you to seek out more improvements, leading to further progress.

You can break your large goal into more manageable and achievable steps so it is easier to notice your positive progress. This can make the goal seem less overwhelming and more achievable, which can in turn provide motivation to keep working towards it.

So if you haven’t reviewed your goal progress yet this year, take five minutes today to do so and use this process to help motivate you to stay or get back on track.

Create a monthly experiment

1SE video app

Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection

I love my routines and they provide an excellent base from which I can achieve a great deal. My love of routines can mean that I can take a very well-worn path. This year I want to mix it up more. Add more play, challenge myself and try new things while bringing along others as I go.

Quote to connect to – “The true method of knowledge is experiment.” – William Blake

February performance – My challenge this month was to take a quick short video every day. I used the 1SE app to pull it all together and I love the video of the month I now have. The app sends you notifications to remind you to take a video but I wanted to take a video of family members as much as I could, so I ended up setting a phone alarm for 5.30pm – a time when there would more likely be family members home. Sometimes there wasn’t anyone home so I would wait and then it would get to me going to bed and I would realise that I hadn’t taken a video! I would grab my phone and take footage of the first person I found. Funnily enough, some of these moments are my favourite from the month. It is the kids in their natural habitat being completely natural and it has captured a true reflection of that moment in time. I hadn’t intended to keep going with taking a video each day but I have liked the result so much that I want to keep doing it (another example of how small gains in progress provide motivation!).

March will see the start of Lent so my challenge for the month will be related to that – saying the rosary every day.

Practice switching from judgement to curiosity

Practice switching from judgement to curiosity - ask why questions

Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection – Having strong opinions on issues means that when I hear a dissenting view I can move to judgement and not make an attempt to understand the opposing viewpoint – it stifles open communication.

When I hear/read/view something that triggers me, I want to be curious not judgemental about it and really listen and understand the thinking behind the differing view and have truly open communication with others. Communication is key to connection.

Quote to connect to – “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand.” – Roy T. Bennett

February performance – As I noted last month I am approaching switching from judgement to curiosity like a meditation practice. In meditation my mind wanders all the time, I now simply notice it and redirect focus back to the breath, body or mantra. I am accepting that at the moment I will still have judgemental thoughts and when I feel this happening, I need to recognise it and then do a reframe to be curious as to why they might think this way and what other information I may need to obtain so I can understand the full picture of this issue.

This month I added a series of questions that I can ask myself to help move from a judging mindset to one that is curious. The questions I ask depend on the circumstance but the general approach remains the same. Questions like:

  • How might they have come to this conclusion?
  • What would I do in that situation?
  • Why does this bother me?
  • What has their life been like?
  • Why do I feel so triggered by this?

I feel that I have improved on last month and would rate myself a 5/10.

Consume a diverse low information diet

Connection to goal – Embrace life with curiosity and experimentation to gain greater connection – When consuming information from many sources now, algorithms are feeding us what it thinks we want to see based on what we have already seen, listened to or read. It takes a concerted effort to diversify the information we are consuming.

We are becoming an increasingly polarised society on so many issues and it is causing deep division. If we only ever look at one side of the story our divisions will only grow bigger.

Quote to connect to – “We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.” – Tim Berners-Lee

February performance – Last month I listed a number of tasks I need to complete to help me consume a diverse low information diet. I am going to include the list each month and note the actions that I took:

  • Completely overhaul my Feedly feed – completed. It took me about 90 minutes to overhaul the feed. It was interesting to see so many blogs that now no longer publish new articles. I completely deleted entire folders of feeds. Over time my interests have changed but by keeping so many feeds in my account, there was too much info coming in so I wasn’t really seeing the ones I wanted to. I would have halved the number of feeds that I had in my account which is great.
  • Edit, add and cull the email newsletters I am subscribed to
  • Review accounts I follow on Instagram
  • Review podcast subscriptions
  • Review Youtube subscriptions

What was February like for you?