What Went Well

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November 30, 2022
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What Went Well

Success, however you define it, is a journey. Paying attention to the steps that are moving you forward is helpful. There is a strong tendency to pay attention to mis-steps, to ruminate on mistakes. Your brain tries to keep you safe by focusing on what went wrong. I am inviting you to notice and think over what went well.  This deliberate focus on the positive changes the conversation in your brain. This provides two benefits: you build positive expectations, and you learn from your own experiences.    

A Practice to Try

The What Went Well practice involves writing down 3 things you did in your day that resulted in a positive outcome. There is a deliberate focus on actions that are tangible and potentially repeatable. The pattern is essentially “When I did X, then Y happened, which allowed Z to occur.” These short statements help your brain process and remember what went well. Here is an example of mine from a recent day:  

W – Called friend for a quick chat which lifted my mood so I could get back to my work.

W – Reviewed next month and emailed a few key people about plans. Feeling less stressed.

W – Spontaneously asked for a 5 minute break in my zoom meeting. People were happy and we got back on track with energy. 

Benefits of Practice

Build Positive Expectation

As you notice what went well, you build a habit of looking for the positive. This leads to the expectation that there are parts of your day that will go well. You harness the power of perception – when you look for good things, you are more likely to see them. You also build a sense of self-confidence and competence. 

Learn From Your Own Experiences

As you notice specific things that went well you bring them into sharper focus in your memory. As you jot them down you replay the behavior in your head. This makes it more likely that you will remember what you did allowing you to repeat it in the future. Over time you can see trends develop. 

What are some things that went well for you today? How did you contribute to the success? What does this tell you about your strengths and accomplishments? Being aware of what is going well in your life, and the ways that you make this happen allows you to build more of the same.  Ending your day with a quick WWW shines a positive light on your journey toward your goals. 


Laura A. Gaines

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