Be your own Banksy

Taking my own medicine when I need it most

Be your own Banksy

In a nutshell:

  • I'm not very good at taking my own medicine when I need it most
  • So I started writing little notes to myself
  • Then I realised I could get even further under my own skin
  • Now I'm surrounded by my own nudges and it's working

Taking my own medicine, badly

I lurve me a good inspirational motivational hack-your-own-habits be-more-effective be-the-best-you quote. I've consumed many awesome books and talks over the years and so I usually have a positive pickmeup quip for every occasion. Of course I'm more than happy to dole them out to anyone that seems that they could do with a mindset boost; or sometimes it just helps to reframe a problem or situation in a more digestible light.

Despite sitting on all that righteous knowledge, it rarely seems to bubble up to the forefront of my mind when I need it most. Like when my alarm goes off in the morning but I'm already talking myself out of going for that run because it's a bit cold outside of the duvet. Or when I'm 12 videos deep into my youtube binge of celeb interviews (one more is always fine if it's at double speed, right?)...or when I'm hitting send on an angry message to colleagues in the heat of frustration at work. It's frighteningly easy to carry on down this list of examples.

"Dear me, do be a doer. Don't be a don't-er."

So I started writing little post-its to myself and leaving them in places where I would see them in the moments where I might need them. It's not a particularly original idea but it was my first step in the right direction.

I don't not take my own medicine because it tastes bad. On the contrary, I like my medicine more than anyone elses. It's the culmination of my life's experiences good, bad and horribly ugly. If I don't take my own cherished advice, it's often because I forget about it entirely. Some smartass I know would be the first to point out that "the faintest ink is better than the best memory" - that smartass is me obviously.

So little notes around the flat make a lot of sense; but they don't get you further than the front door or maybe your fixed desk if you have one. Once I tasted the power of these little nudges at home I had to find a more ways to reach my future self at more times.

We have to go deeper!

More positive notes! In more places! Where was another blank surface that could be graffiti'd with encouraging nuggets of motivation?? Here's what I came up with:

  • passwords - Why waste your mental RAM typing in some inane phrase multiple times a day when you can be reaffiriming your most important goals, principles, attitudes or beliefs? Instead of typing CheeseWotsits!1985 5 times a day, try IwillrunNYmarathon2018. As a bonus, you'll have a longer more secure login and an easier time remembering it.
  • numeric codes - You can use a similar approach for pin numbers by spelling out relative positive words or acronyms with the text-speak letters. YOLO would be 9656 for example.
  • screensavers - I change mine regularly to nudge towards my current monthly personal development goal.
  • calendar reminders - I try not to go overboard with these because I cherish my carefully pruned calendar notifications as one of my few reliably worthy interruptions. However, I schedule in a few repeating events like me time as a nudge to medidate if I haven't already.
  • reflection template - I've recently started my daily written reflections by re-writing my top 2 or 3 goals for the month to make sure that I address my own progress towards them as part of my mental offloading.
  • phone wallpaper - snap a pick of your note, set it as your phone wallpaper. How often will you see that eh?

Results? Solid.

I've found the overall approach particularly effective in helping me stay focused on the activities that I chose at my most zen state of mind. Keeping those targets present is an ongoing balancing act, and these little nudges however small make it easier to stay the resilient in the face of glorious distractions. I'm always on the lookout for more ways to hack my own lethargy so let me know if you've got some effective stratgies of your own that I've missed here.