The Motivating Power of 🔥 and a ✅

January 17, 2023
Heath Wilson

Full transparency, I’ve made a recurring New Year’s resolution for the last decade or more. And I’ve failed each and every year. Each December, I decided that this will finally be the year that I allocate the first few minutes of every morning to personal “quiet time.” 

For me, this time consists of a daily journal entry, a 365 day devotional, and this year a Bible reading plan (chronologically). Sometimes I simply sit and reflect, sometimes I pray, and oftentimes my mind wanders. It takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes. 

As I said though, I’ve failed at this mission every year. My willpower fades (often in mid-to-late January) and I justify my lack of discipline because I’m so busy. But the truth is, I’ve been going about it all wrong. Here are the two things I changed to set myself up for success in 2023:

1 - Environment

James Clear states in Atomic Habits, “environment is stronger than willpower” and my environment has been stacked against me. I’m not talking about my physical environment though that is important. My mistake has been with my digital environment - for me, it’s virtually impossible to stay focused when my iPad or iPhone is sitting on my desk or in my pocket. The allure to check something exciting on my phone is way more appealing than trudging through Leviticus. 

2023 Change: I start an Aro session each time I sit down for quiet time. Why? First, it allows me to track and record my daily, personal investment. I want to look back on 2023 and feel proud of the fact that I’ve chosen to invest in myself. Second, and this was unexpected, I’m highly motivated by the streak 🔥 that I’ve started. I don’t want to break the streak, I’m proud of the 🔥 emojis, they keep me going. And lastly, my quiet time is low tech - hard copies only. This may not apply to everyone, but if I have a piece of tech open, I lose focus and easily shift to email, check the weather, or Shazam the song that’s playing in Starbucks.

2 - Accountability

This word is sometimes misconstrued. My mind immediately thinks of someone that is tasked with keeping me from doing something bad vs encouraging me to continue something worthwhile. And there is real power in encouragement from someone on the same journey. As James Clear says, “Join a Tribe where your desired behavior is the normal behavior." I need this kind of peer pressure. And, if I’m being honest, doing it alone is really hard.

2023 Change: This one is so simple, but incredibly effective. My co-founder and I send each other a green check mark via text ✅ as soon as we’ve completed our morning session. That’s it. A ✅. It’s powerful because we’ve committed together to make this morning investment. We don’t want to let each other down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, we want to lift each other up.

It’s only mid-January so I don’t want to claim early victory over this resolution, but I can tell you and it feels different this year. Each day of my streak, each green check is giving me more confidence and resolve to stick with it. 

So I encourage you, whatever your goal, set yourself up for success by thinking through your environment and by aligning yourself with a person or people that encourage your desired behavior. 

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