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Teresa Amabile: Track Your Small Wins to Motivate Big Accomplishments

About this talk

It turns out that taking just five minutes a day to document your work progress and feelings can have a powerful impact. After analyzing over 238 diaries from happy workers, Teresa Amabile shares key takeaways for staying motivated at work, including the importance of measuring progress, documenting challenges, and taking time to reflect.

Teresa Amabile, Professor, Harvard Business School

Teresa Amabile is a professor and director of research at Harvard Business School, and coauthor of The Progress Principle. A psychologist, Teresa studies how everyday work life can influence people and their performance. Her research encompasses creativity, productivity, innovation, and inner work life—the confluence of emotions, perceptions, and motivation that people experience as they react to events at work.

Based on research into nearly 12,000 daily diary entries from over 200 professionals inside organizations, The Progress Principle illuminates how everyday events at work can impact employee well-being and performance. Published in 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press, the book is co-authored with Amabile’s husband and collaborator, Steven Kramer, Ph.D.

Comments (18)
  • kai

    Maybe most people in the audience don’t have a diary because online social networking has become a public diary for a majority of the population.

  • Mrn

    A diary is strictly private.

  • lufei

    c o m is a magic web site ;Making friends chat entertainment
    dating.Here you can find the most suitable for your partner;;;;;

  • Wells Baum

    That’s why I’ve reversed patterns and have been putting my thoughts on the Day One app.

  • Doug Toft

    Teresa, I cannot thank you enough for this talk. I want you to know that it has been a lifesaver for my wife and my daughter, both of whom teach at a high poverty, inner city school in north Minneapolis. I keep telling them to focus on small wins with kids, and lo and behold, you offer empirical support. Thank you! This works in an educational as well as a business context. Many blessings to you.

  • Martin Cavanaugh Porter II

    This is so helpful. Thank you. 🙂

  • Tuomas OK

    This is a very valuable study. I definitely have to add the small wins in my daily addictions. It’s so easy to forget the reflection at the end of the day, and it’s so important to do it. Especially to have the RIGHT questions is very powerful…

    I know some connected studies that might be of interest about the first finding – intrinsic motivation from work itself, work engagement, or flow:

  • Tuomas OK

    Also recommended WHEN battling some personal challenges, a game-like website:

  • Jacki Whitford

    Today I was lead to this video and I am so grateful. I spent 2011 in the hospital every day with my 89 year old Mom and the diary I kept was basically the journal of the last year of her life. I started and stopped writing in a diary for myself many times this year, but stopped each time because I was clearly focused on my grief and not on my small wins this year. I started by sitting outside for 20 minutes each morning and just writing in my pocket Moleskine about the weather. Then I moved on to add small wins in my life on my road to find a new job (after two years of being out of work.) I would like to suggest to people to make an appointment with yourself on your calendar every day – 30 minutes before bed or when you wake up, or on the way home (if you travel mass transit.) Whether you type on a keyboard or write by hand (which to me connects your heart to your soul), the writing will help you remember how wonderful you are and help you come across solutions to daily issues while you are writing.

  • Colin Meda

    Inspiration seems to constantly disappear forever for me. I’ve
    been learning to celebrate the small things in life and blessings on a daily
    basis to find inspiration. I encourage everyone to keep inspiring everyone.

  • Random Chick

    I have attempted to journal many times but what I didn’t realize was it’s intrinsic value. Thank you for helping me get back to it!

  • Edgardo

    Just wonderful very revealing, I have not dle constubre daily but the vitacora but I have no todabia froma join my many notebooks and notebook s make this simpler, but I know I’m on the right caminon thanks Teresa

  • Joe Trunzo

    Yippy! Thanks for the great lecture.

  • Hannes Grebin

    I reuse the simple calendar app as an searchable online diary (if you type ‘SAMPLE HEADLINE (NOTE TEXT)’ — did you see the brackets? this will re-insure that SAMPLE HEADLINE will stay as headline & NOTE TEXT/body text would added to the related note.
    extra-tip: try to 1st write all entries¬es in your fav offline editor than copy&paste.

    best benefit? — it’s searchable. type doctor, and you find all related entries 🙂

    Next big step would be getting me a moleskine calendar (already ordered 2012-edition) and track everything and put it on 30boxes in the evening routine.

  • YHS

    after this speech,I will pick up my dairy again and write down not just life detail but also work progress. thx!

  • Jan

    amazing, thank you

  • Camilla Oliveira

    I’ve been using this “work diary” idea for a few months and it has given me more self awareness and helped me to rethink tough situations and solve hard problems. It is also makes me conscious of my daily achievements and failures, so I can celebrate the first ones and fix the last.

  • Adar Darnov

    Very inspiring. I write a lot as it is but this will help me get more out of it.

  • Family First

    This video really inspiring me.

  • Chris Raymond

    I find this SO true: When I no longer feel that there is any identifiable “progress” to be made in a workplace on anything meaningful, I feel totally demoralized. I think it’s a mistake for employers to think lack of structure and project management equates to “freedom”. Usually, it equates to entropy!

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