Over a decade ago, I was struggling through a bumpy year, and noticed how exceptionally easy it was to forget the happy parts and dwell on the sad. There was plenty of good times during my day, week and month – but I needed to write them down to remind myself they were also part of my life.

Since then I’ve tested multiple ways of recording positive activities. I have a couple of Moleskine diaries not used for planning upfront, but where I filled the pages afterwards with notes, drawings and ticket stubs. When I wanted a digital approach, it took different forms but mostly various lists. These versions all had positive impact – but they also turned into time consuming chores. I’d always fall behind and feel guilty about it. (Who needs that from their self-care habits!?) But now…

A sustainable way of recording wins

  • I sit down once a week with my 2018_wins.md file
  • Add up to 10 wins from the previous weeks
  • I don’t remember many initially, so I need to go find them
  • Very small wins also count, they don’t have to be “important”
  • If there’s no positive angle, it doesn’t belong on this list
  • Don’t try to explain, just use words to jog my own memory later
  • Max 60 characters and prefix with an emoji

Maintaining this file is a weekly activity I look forward to. It focuses on reflecting without frantically trying to collect everything. I’m always surprised with what I find when I actively search.

Week XX ====================================================

🐛 Debugged build failure on Jenkins and fixed it myself
💛 Finished two MDN learning modules on JavaScript
📉 Deleted last remaining jQuery UI from application X
☕️ Had useful session with Team Y about design process & UI
👊 Fixed broken responsive behaviour in application Z
🌱 Took initiative for a project to improve SVG workflow
💁‍♀️ Held talk for department about browser support strategies
📊 Was production responsible and hung out in Kibana all day

The result is great! I’ve now got a file for work and a file for personal life from 2018, and they are both filled with hundreds of small wins that make me smile.