Having a physical reminder of a concept helps it sink in more powerfully. Imagine breaking the habit of a lifetime by having a constant reminder that keeps you on track with your goals… or to catch yourself when you’re in misalignment with your values… or to stop yourself before you give in to a self-deflating habit.
Reminders help build awareness. When you’re focused on performing this exercise, you naturally become more aware of your thoughts, words and actions – which, if they are habits, usually don’t get much attention.
Here is a great exercise I encourage you to do for about a week… or long-term.
You will need 14 tokens. I recommend coins; you can even substitute bills in any denomination (you’ll see why in a moment) but you can also use dried beans, small stones, buttons or any small object you can carry comfortably in your pockets.
You will also need two large jars, one labeled YES and one labeled NO.
Begin each day with 7 tokens or bills in your right pocket, and 7 in your left pocket.
Then, choose a point of awareness – something that bothers you about yourself, that you would like to eliminate from your life. Here are some examples of things to be aware of:
- Eating out of boredom or emotional eating
- Talking yourself out of something that’s good for you
- Criticizing ( yourself and others ).
- Unkind words to or about yourself
- Negative comparisons
- Giving in to a bad habit
- Lashing out in anger (saying/doing things you later regret)
Each time you say or do something positive, genuine, proactive, inspiring, kind and aligned with your goals and values throughout the day, take a token from your left pocket and transfer it to your right pocket (because it is the right thing to do).
This can include complimenting someone; small random acts of kindness; pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; making yourself do something you would rather not do; being honest (including with yourself); speaking kindly to and about others (and yourself); focusing on what’s right in a situation; being grateful; not giving in to a bad habit – or anything else that you feel good about.
Whenever you catch yourself engaging in the activity or words (or even thoughts!) that dis-empower you, keep you stuck or move you in the wrong direction, take a token from your right pocket and transfer it to your left pocket.
At the end of the day, empty your pockets.
Place the coins from your right pocket into the YES jar and the coins from your left pocket into the NO jar. Take note of what you did throughout the day to discover your strengths and weaknesses, and to reward yourself for keeping on track.
This exercise is not for you to beat yourself up about making mistakes or straying from your ideal. It’s simply an awareness exercise. When you become aware of what you’re doing out of habit, it’s much easier to then break the habit and create positive habits that move you in the right direction!
Have some fun with this. When your YES jar is full… do something good with the money. Whatever feels right in the moment. Give to a charity. Buy yourself something you’ve been wanting for a long time. Treat yourself and a friend to a dinner and a movie… whatever!
Now, what about the NO jar? Consider carefully how you could spend that money to help yourself be better in some area of life. Would new running shoes motivate you to go out and exercise every day? Would dance lessons make you feel more socially confident? Would a WordPress course make you more desirable professionally?
Do not use the money in the NO jar on anything but self-improvement. In this way, you accomplish two things:
- You deliberately work on yourself
- You take away the sting of mistakes and turn them into valuable resources (without making these mistakes, you wouldn’t have this wonderful opportunity to better yourself)! We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes!
If you are not using money for this exercise, it’s okay! It’s still a great reminder of where you’re doing well and where you can use some improvement.
The reason I like to use money for this exercise, is that you can do something tangible as a reward or a way to make improvements, when the exercise is complete.
Each day is a new beginning. You are breaking the habit of worrying what happened yesterday, no matter how you messed up yesterday, you have a chance today to wipe the slate clean and start with creating fresh, empowering and positive habits.
Use the coin exercise to build awareness of many flaws at once, or focus on just one. Either way, you’re well on your way to a happier, more fulfilled, more empowered you!