At the start of a new year, it’s traditional to make resolutions and commit ourselves to establishing new, rewarding habits—or get rid of bad ones. The latest research into motivation and persistence offers some advice for how we can make tweaks to our daily routines that stick until they become habits. First, it’s helpful to make your goals fairly modest and approachable—and to chose ones that feel important to you. Intrinsic motivation is a huge factor in success; we persist longer at projects in which we are genuinely engaged and invested. It’s also easier to start a purposeful practice when it requires a small, manageable shift in behavior each day rather than an overwhelming task.
App makers are fascinated by the research into motivation and habit building, and are trying to use the smartphones in our pockets as nudges, support systems, cheerleaders and a supply of rewards. These apps help us establish a rewarding new routine—whether practicing a foreign language, taking a daily meditation break, or walking a certain distance each day—by keeping our focus on a sequence of measurable steps or a single daily burst of effort. The idea is to prompt us to do something worthwhile each day and set up a virtuous feedback loop in which our own persistence towards a goal becomes inherently rewarding.
One app we particularly like is 1 Second Everyday, which asks you to capture and record a brief moment each day—just a snippet of video—and then compiles a short movie out of your memories. It’s rare for an app to make us feel more connected, but the video diaries created by 1 Second Everyday help us remember and reflect on all the fleeting experiences that cumulatively shape our lives. The videos are just a few seconds long, so you can briefly record something about your day and then return to being engaged in the moment. The reward for cultivating this daily habit is a short but revealing documentary at the end of the year that can serve as food for thought. What most inspired me or caught my attention? How have I changed and grown this year?
Using videos as a tool for assessment and reflection is a longstanding practice at The Children’s School. For years, we have carefully recorded the activity in the classroom on film. Videos of lessons have proven to be a superb tool for training teachers and building their skills. The teachers also create videos as recordkeeping to document each student’s progress. At the end of the year, we assemble and share a video portfolio of these moments of growth to make parent conferences more informative and constructive. Indeed, the School received a Leading Edge in Technology award from the National Association of Independent Schools for its use of video portfolios. Some of our students even create their own, highlighting what they felt was most interesting about their learning experience.
Unsurprisingly, we love the inspiration behind 1 Second Everyday! The app asks for only a few seconds of attention each day, but the video diary it compiles can become a moving and insightful record of all you have witnessed and experienced in 2018. Building a collection of such diaries can help us think about the passage of time in a more reflective and thoughtful way. And isn’t that the essence of being a lifelong learner?
May your diary for 2018 be full of joyful surprises!