I am a big fan of techniques and strategies to get more focused work done.
Running a business (or just living in the 21st century) means there’s always more to do than there is time and energy to do it.
And that quickly turns into beating ourselves up. It’s really easy to start feeling like none of us is ever doing enough, accomplishing enough, giving enough.
So while I do enjoy a good “productivity hack,” there’s a practice that I think needs to come first.
Every week in Creative Fierce — the implementation community I run for writers and other content creators — I take a few minutes with the group for self-gratitude.
The magic of self-gratitude
Maybe I’m just an ungrateful bum, but I have a hard time with traditional gratitude journaling.
I end up writing the same couple of things every day, and for whatever reason, I just can’t connect to it.
But when I started practicing self-gratitude, it hit different.
Psychology professor Matt Baldwin puts it this way:
“Despite the fact that past gratitude is self-focused, it reminds people that they’re part of a bigger story and that they have the power to grow,” Baldwin said. “It’s possible this promotes a pay-it-forward type of mentality.”
And a study he led on self-gratitude suggests that,
” … past-self gratitude increases self-awareness (clarity, authenticity, and connectedness) whereas other-focused gratitude doesn’t.”
(Matt Baldwin tweet about the study)
The tasks you got crossed off. And also the tasks you made some progress on. The words you wrote. The walks you took. The good conversations you had.
And all of the stuff you did that’s “just normal” for you.
Are you a champ at making sure the dishes are done and the trash gets taken out? That is valuable work. Give yourself credit for it.
Do you consistently get yourself to an office or other obligation every day? Get your kid to school? Take a shower? Give yourself credit.
Anything that you’re inclined to say, “I shouldn’t have to get a gold star for that, it’s just what I’m supposed to do,” take the damned gold star.
It’s work. It’s real. And it takes time and energy, both of which are finite.
How I’ve seen it help
The first thing self-gratitude does is reminds you that you are a person who can do things. The psychological term for this is self-efficacy, and at a basic level, it’s the sense that you’re capable. You can handle this.
The second thing is that it helps you get realistic about the time and energy you actually have left for your projects. The work you’re already doing is using a bunch of resources, and it’s good to make that visible.
The third thing is it gives you space to consider if there’s something on this list that might not need to get done at all, or at least not get done by you. Maybe someone else can share the work. Maybe some tasks get done because they don’t need a lot of hard thinking, but they could get put off or just deleted.
So why are we so stingy about something so useful?
I see a lot of coaches and teachers grumble that “they’re not here to hold your hand.” Or that learners “shouldn’t expect a gold star” for doing the work in a course.
I mean, that’s fine for them, I guess. But what’s so bad about holding a hand? What’s so bad about giving out a gold star on a hard day?
Acknowledgement and support are free. Kindness is free.
And kindness to yourself is free.
So please take some gold stars, some hand-holding, and a virtual hug if you’d like one. I am also available with virtual pom-poms, high fives, and fireworks.
There’s not a limit. You can take a whole bucket full, and there will still be plenty for everyone else.
I see you there being awesome. And if I can, allow me to hold up a mirror so you can see it, too.